With Rep. Jim Nussle leaving Congress to be the Republican candidate for governor of Iowa, the 1st District House seat he has held since 1990 is up for grabs. Businessman and pro-growth conservative Republican Mike Whalen and liberal Democrat Bruce Braley are battling for “one of the most closely watched congressional seats in the upcoming election as Democrats try to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives,” said the Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier.
The two candidates are polar opposites. Restaurant owner Whalen has no prior political experience and defeated two more established Republicans in the primary. Trial lawyer Braley has served on a governor’s task force on a volunteer basis and was a precinct coordinator in the Kerry-Edwards campaign two years ago.
“I don’t think that not having been in politics your whole life is a negative, I think it is a positive,” says Whalen. “I woke up every day for 28 years trying to make something positive happen. I didn’t get up trying to think about how I was going to raise the negatives of Red Lobster or try to create a spin in the public’s mind that Olive Garden wasn’t the place to eat. I got up every morning trying to say how do I make my restaurants and hotels better, how do I make this real estate project happen, how do I try to bring this person’s talents out. That’s a different mindset than what prevails predominantly in politics. I think we need more of that kind of mindset.”
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Whalen’s vision is “a new contract for American jobs.” He wants to lead the “global fight for jobs and capital” through the promotion of conservative values.
Like Ronald Reagan, the restaurateur-candidate would provide a new flavor to Washington’s present atmosphere. The nation’s capital, as Whalen sees it, “has way too many people who have spent way too little time in the private sector.”
“I’m confident I can win, but it isn’t going to be easy,” said Whalen “I’m confident that when my ideas are contrasted with Mr. Braley’s, I can win. I think that when people look at our records they’d rather have a doer than a suer.”
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