Loebsack's Campaign Strategy: "Do My Job"
Dave Loebsack's approach to his first re-election campaign is simple. "Eventually, I guess I'll get to campaigning," the 2nd District congressman told Johnson County Democrats Thursday night, "but in the meantime, I need to do my job."
Since mid-June, that job has been, first and foremost, dealing with flood relief. The district's two largest cities, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, were the hardest hit in the state.
"We had two votes to adjourn" last week for the August recess, said Loebsack. "In both instances, I voted no. I thought it was more important to stay and get a disaster relief package. I'm disappointed that we didn't get it through, but I'm confident we will in September." Loebsack said there is no hard dollar amount yet attached to the pending legislation, and it's not clear what kind of bill President Bush would be willing to sign.
"I think I need to be in two places at the same time," Loebsack said of flood relief efforts. "We're still working with folks in Washington during the district work period."
Loebsack has spent much of his first week back in the district meeting one on one with flood victims. "I'm taking as many stories as I can back to my colleagues," he said. "It's anecdotal, but it's powerful."
Iowa's seven member delegation -- four Democrats, three Republicans -- is "working together in as bipartisan a fashion as we can," said Loebsack, noting he's signed onto a small business relief bill sponsored by Steve King.
King is among Republican House members spending at least part of the recess in Washington in an effort to force a vote on drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), dubbed the "Drill America First Act." Loebsack is skeptical about the proposal. "The oil companies have access to 68 million acres, and that's where they need to look first," he said. "We don't need to drill in ANWR. There's a lot of reserve up there already where they can drill, and I'm OK with that. But we need a comprehensive plan that includes alternative fuels and renewables."
Other than "doing my job," Loebsack's campaigning has been limited to a few parades and small events with party activists, such as Thursday's Johnson County central committee meeting. He skipped the state Democratic convention in July, but will be attending the Democratic National Convention later this month as a superdelegate.
As for his re-election chances against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks and two other potential candidates, Loebsack said, "I feel confident that the record I've built over the last 20 months is the record the people of the 2nd District want to see."
Loebsack said he is also confident that Democrats will increase their House and Senate majorities -- "By how much, I don't know."
"I try not to get into the process stuff as much now that I'm not a professor anymore," said the former Cornell College political scientist, "but if we get to 57 or 58 in the Senate and we have Obama as president, some Republicans will get on board and we'll have fewer filibusters. We can get out of Iraq and get our troops home -- but we've got to have Obama as president."