Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The fourth profile in the series is Iowa's 2nd Congressional District race.
Iowa's 2nd Congressional District comprises fifteen counties in the southeastern part of the state: Appanoose, Cedar, Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington, and Wayne.
Loebsack, a former professor of political science at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, scored one of the biggest upsets across the country in 2006 when he defeated 15-term GOP incumbent Jim Leach. Leach's defeat was particularly surprising as he was a moderate-to-liberal Republican who had been a strong critic of the Iraq War prior to the election and had consistently denounced neo-con foreign policies. Loebsack won by 2.9 points in a district that had voted Republican by 19.7 points for Leach in 2004.
Loebsack serves on The House Education and Labor Committee and The House Armed Services Committee. Loebsack campaigned in 2006 to end U.S. involvement in Iraq as quickly as possible, but ending the Iraq War is not among the 14 priority issues listed on the Representative's campaign website.
Loebsack faces three challengers in 2008. Republican Miller-Meeks is an ophthalmologist who is campaigning to reform Social Security to allow personal savings accounts, simplify the tax code (e.g. fair tax or flat tax), revitalize the GI Bill, and reform health care by realigning health insurance through a national risk pool with multiple insurance players. She also believes the U.S. needs to develop a new 'industry of energy' that will help address energy concerns, environmental concerns, enhance American economic opportunities and productivity, and bolster U.S. national security.
Independent candidate Brian White is an attorney for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who is running on the issues of reducing the national debt through fiscal responsibility, preserving Social Security, and securing energy independence.
Iowa Green Party candidate Wendy Barth most recently ran for Governor in 2006, coming in third place out of five candidates with 0.7 percent of the vote.
Leach's decision not to challenge Loebsack to a rematch in 2008 nearly assured the 1-term incumbent's return to Washington, D.C. in the current political environment that is currently very favorable to Democratic congressional candidates. Barack Obama, however, was not quite as popular in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District as he was in the 1st. Obama won only 8 of the 15 counties in Iowa's Democratic caucuses - finishing in third place in 5 of them in the southeast rim of the state (aka Edwards Country): Appanoose, Davis, Van Buren Wapello, and Wayne Counties.