Former U.S. Representatives Jim Leach (center), R-Iowa, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, speak about their support for Democratic congressional candidate Christina Bohannan during a press conference Saturday at the MLK Interpretation Center in Davenport. (Gary L. Krambeck/Moline Dispatch-Argus)
DAVENPORT — In 2006, Dave Loebsack unexpectedly defeated 30-year-old Republican incumbent and moderate United States Representative Jim Leach to represent Southeast Iowa.
Then in 2020, the couple together endorsed Democrat Joe Biden.
On Saturday, they campaigned together in Davenport for a Democrat they both hope will represent Southeast Iowa in Congress — Christina Bohannan.
Bohannan is a state representative and professor of law at the University of Iowa, where Leach also taught. She specializes in intellectual property law, the first amendment and competition law.
Bohannan is running against Republican U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who is seeking re-election for the first time after winning the seat by six votes in 2020.
Leach was known to vote across party lines while in office. A Congress Quarterly Study in 2005, Leach voted with most members of his party at the lowest rate among House members at the time – 63%. He voted against invading Iraq and chastised the Republican Congressional campaign arm for sending out flyers during the 2006 campaign targeting Loebsack for his stance on same-sex marriage.
On Saturday, Leach said the country was “riddled with divisions” and said someone like Bohannan, who studies law, would be well qualified to serve in Congress, especially after Jan. 6, 2021.
Republicans have questioned Leach’s GOP bona fides. In 2008, he broke with Republicans and endorsed Barack Obama, speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
In 2022, Leach said he changed his party’s registration to vote in the Democratic primary for the first time.
During the campaign, Bohannan focused on her education, growing up in a trailer with an orange shag carpet in Florida and her family struggling to get by when her father fell ill and lost his health insurance.
Loebsack, the congressman representing southeast Iowa until he decided not to run for office in 2020, said Bohannan’s background was similar to his own. Loebsack grew up in poverty, raised in Sioux City by a single parent.
“That impressed me,” Loebsack said. “I just said, ‘Christina, make sure you beat this as hard as you can because that’s a big part of why you are the way you are, who you are today, and the people you’re going for. fight while you “I’m in Washington, DC””
Loebsack added, “I know when she’s in Congress she’s going to do a fabulous job. She’s not going to lose sight of her values, not going to lose sight of where she comes from and what she stands for.”
Bohannan said her pitch to voters in the home stretch ahead of the midterms was that, if elected, she would “fight for working people” and “set aside partisan politics and just focus on the people of this district”.
“They collectively represented this district for over 40 years,” Bohannan said of Loebsack and Leach. “And during that time, they both served with honor and integrity. They spoke the truth. And they put the people of this district ahead of political parties or corporate donors. And that’s the kind of representative that I will be.”
For Bohannan, that means cutting health care costs, fighting persistent inflation, and keeping Social Security and Medicare intact.
On inflation, Bohannan said she supports the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and that there are already permits to extract oil from federal lands. But, she said, funding more renewable energy sources could also cut costs.
“We already get more of our electricity from renewables than any other state. So that’s a growth area for us, and I think having funding that supports that will be great for Iowa. “Bohannan said.
Miller-Meeks said she supports more permits on federal lands to free up more domestic oil and calm gas prices. Miller-Meeks, a former director of the state’s public health department, has also campaigned to add more border patrol officers, police the Biden administration, ban biological men from participating in women’s sports and investigate the origin of COVID-19.
In a statement, Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said, “We need Republican majorities in Washington to push back against Joe Biden and his disastrous policies. The people of Iowa are done with it.”
Early voting is underway in Iowa. Election day is November 8.