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Congressional candidates speak at forum

BY ARIANA WITT | APRIL 30, 2010 7:30 AM

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The University of Iowa’s Chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty hosted four congressional candidates for Congress in a public forum Thursday night.

The candidates discussed the status of the Republican Party in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, which is at present represented by Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

Their goal? Get people to know that the Republican Party is more positive than they might think.
This was the first time the UI chapter brought together candidates Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Steve Rathje, and Gary Sicard.

“I’m glad that the Young Americans for Liberty organized this event,” said UI senior John Anderson. “You get the opportunity to experience different perspectives on issues.”

One issue that garnered significant attention was the increase in federal government spending.

“The government has reached so far into our pockets, and it thinks it knows how we will respond to its system,” said Republican Rathje to an audience of around 30.

Rathje, who ran for Senate in 2008, said he plans to represent the people if elected in November. He believes more in state government than the federal government.

“The government is too involved in our lives already, and I want to be able to give that decision back to the people,” Rathje said.

First-time political candidate Gary Sicard said he feels all bodies of government should practice a hands-off approach when it comes to people’s rights. Sicard — a member of the Libertarian Party — said he is against government regulations that hinder personal decision-making, including the use of marijuana.

“The government shouldn’t make it into a big issue when that happens,” Sicard said. “By decriminalizing drugs, we get rid of so many issues, including the current war in Iraq.”

Ani DeGroot, UI junior and president of the Young Americans for Liberty, said the event gave her the opportunity to find out where politicians in her district really stand.

“I feel like these are issues that are prominent and obviously facing America, but sometimes ignored by the Republican Party,” DeGroot said.

Gettemy said he is glad to see a younger crowd have a genuine interest in the congressional bid. He feels the Republican Party has a good chance to defeat Loebsack later this year.

“The district is an at-risk seat for Democrats,” Gettemy said. “People are alarmed about what is going on in this country.”

However, Congressional Quarterly Politics rates this race as “Safe” — “meaning the incumbent party is virtually certain to win the seat.

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