Braley stumps in Iowa City

BY PAUL OSGERBY | JULY 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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With the general elections approaching, Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, visited Iowa City on July 5 to meet with voters and advocate for the middle class.

“The reason I am running for Senate is to champion working families and Iowans who don’t have a voice,” Braley said after his speech.

The congressman spoke to the audience about his past couple of weeks. Braley has traveled across Iowa towns to meet as many Iowans as he can to promote his campaign.

“We have kickoffs like this going on across the state,” said Samuel Lau, the press secretary for Braley for Iowa. “This is how Democrats win: through the grass roots.”

Over the weekend, Braley made his stop in town in which Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, recently opened up a new office, 623 S. Dubuque St.

Locals packed into the room during the rainy afternoon to shake hands and speak to Braley, the Democratic candidate for Iowa’s open Senate seat.

After the meet-and-greet, the candidate traveled to Muscatine for another special meeting and then on to Fairfield to celebrate the town’s 175th birthday celebration.

Dianne Bysrtom, the director of the Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, said she believes a lot of money and attention is being put into the Senate race. She said she also thinks both campaigns will continue to canvas because of the small gap in the polls.

“The polls are really close,” she said. “[Braley] will need to rev up and get the Democratic base excited.”

Mike Carberry, a candidate for the Johnson County supervisor, said he estimated up to 100 people who attended the event throughout the afternoon.

Following Braley’s arrival at the event, Marjorie Tully, a volunteer for the Johnson County Democrats, addressed the crowd with a short speech on the values of Braley’s platform.

Braley said he also highlights such issues as federal minimum wage and preserving Social Security.

“[Braley] gets it — he grew up here, he worked hard on a farm,” Tully said. “He has an appreciation for the struggle that all of us are facing every day.”

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has held the Senate seat for nearly 30 years, and he spent 10 years before that in the House of Representatives. He announced his plan to retire last year.

Braley announced he would run for the vacant seat in February 2013. Republican Joni Ernst is also vying for the seat for the Nov. 4 election.

“This is a very important seat for the Democrats to hold on to,” Carberry said. “The Republicans see it as a possible pickup.”

The seat is necessary for pushing forward President Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s platform.

“There’s just so much legislation that’s been blocked the last few years,” Tully said.

Ernst spent last week in Des Moines speaking about Social Security and the recent IRS scandal.

Americans for Prosperity, the primary political branch of the Koch brothers, is preparing for a major spike in funding before the elections in November. Ernst’s campaign is set to receive a significant amount.

“Joni Ernst wants to take Iowa values to Senate,” said Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for Ernst’s campaign. “Braley will continue his ‘Washington Ways’ from Congress and bring [those] into Senate.”

Hamel declined to release any information about Ernst’s forthcoming campaign.

Max Shelley, the head of the Political Science Department at ISU, said before Harkin retired, the seat was “up for grabs” for the Democratic Party.  However, with the latest polls, and Ernst’s national acclaim, Shelley said, the leading candidate in the polls could affect the whole election ticket.

“I think he needs to work hard to recover from major gaffes he made early on,” Shelley said. “He’s trying to put emphasis that he’s not a silver spoon in the mouth. He’s trying to rebound from early mistakes.”

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