Bruce Braley might be Democrat’s answer to Sen. Tom Harkin’s retirement


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Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley is campaigning to replace Sen. Tom Harkin in the 2014 elections.

Thaddeus Mast

Members of the Democratic Party are happy with Rep. Bruce Braley’s recent announcement to run for the senatorial spot recently held by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin in 2014.

“Bruce Braley is someone who’s going to stand up for the middle class, work across party lines just like Sen. Harkin has,” said Michael Hunt, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party.

“He has worked hard for veterans and the middle class and people in agriculture, and I think he’ll absolutely carry on the tradition that Harkin has set for us.”

That tradition, Hunt said, includes being an “absolutely legendary figure and someone who has a proven track record on countless issues, particularly health and human services and fighting for the middle class every day.”

“Sen. Harkin’s been there so long; he remembers a time when Democrats and Republicans worked together,” said Hunt.

Braley said he has much in common with Harkin.

“We both grew up in Iowa. We both went to Iowa State University and we both grew up in modest, working class families. Those are some of the things that we share that define why we work so hard helping the middle class.”

The two have also worked on similar issues in Congress.

“One of the things that I’ve worked on in my six years in Congress are similar things that Tom’s worked on: access to health care, serving on the Health Subcommittee; energy, serving on the Energy Commerce Committee and making opportunities for renewable energy in the state of Iowa,” Braley said.

Braley also cited education as an important issue for both himself and Harkin.

“Education has been a huge priority for both Sen. Harkin and me. It’s personal to me because my mom’s been teaching in Iowa since 1948 and my wife is a teacher at West High School in Waterloo,” said Braley.

“A lot of the things that I’ll be working on are continuing [Harkin’s] legacy of trying to promote policies that strengthen and expand the middle class,” Braley said.

Braley said his goals and focus won’t change if he becomes senator.

“We have seen, as the economy has recovered, the economy itself has grown stronger and our Gross Domestic Product has increased, but earnings for people in the middle class have been stagnant,” Braley said.

“These are the cornerstones of economic opportunity and development in the state of Iowa, and those are the things I’ll be promoting at the United States Senate.”

Braley has already received much support and endorsements from other Democrats.

“Braley has talked to Harry Reid — and the rest of the Democrat majority leadership are behind him. He’s talked to the Iowa Democratic Party — they’re behind him. He’s gotten endorsements from [former Rep. Leonard] Boswell and [Rep. David] Loebsack,” said Tim Nelson, sophomore in political science and member of the ISU Democrats.

Hunt also cited a strong Democratic party backing for Braley.  “Those people have served with Braley in office. They know his records, they know his ability to deliver for Iowans and uphold the values that Iowans hold dear,” Hunt said.

Both parties know that the race for this Senate seat will draw national attention while also giving both a good chance of winning.

“The reality is that this is going to be one of the high-profile races in America in 2014,” Braley said.

Steve Bierfeldt, the Iowa Republican Party executive director, agreed that this will be an important race.  “I think it should be a competitive race. It should be a very good opportunity for Republicans to pick up a seat,” said Bierfeldt.

This is a race that ISU students will also be keeping a close eye on.

“It’ll be one that’s heavily watched, and it’ll be a tight one for sure,” said Abhishek Vemuri, president of the ISU Democrats. “I know ISU Democrats will work hard for him when the time comes.”

Even though there will still be a primary to actually select the Democratic nominee, it looks unlikely that anyone will challenge Braley.

“In my opinion, no one’s going to run against him, unless they like losing,” said Nelson.

The Democratic Party is happy with Braley’s recent announcement to run for the retiring Harkin in 2014.

“We’ll have a very good Democratic candidate, whether it’s Bruce Braley or anyone else, for both Senate and to replace him in the House,” Hunt said.

Hunt went on to say that most Iowans feel comfortable with the idea of Braley in Senate, stating that “he has a very clear understanding of what everyday Iowans care about, and it’s not the social issues, it’s much more practical stuff; its pragmatic issues, such as getting the economy going and finding a job.”

Both parties know that the race for this Senate seat will draw national attention while also giving both a good chance of winning.

Loebsack and Boswell have both endorsed Braley on Facebook.

In Boswell’s endorsement, he said, “I’ve watched you fight passionately for Iowa’s small towns, big cities and working families for the last six years in the U.S. House. You’ve been a tireless advocate for Iowa’s veterans. It’s time we got you elected to the Senate so you can be an even more effective voice for Iowa.”

“I think it should be a competitive race. It should be a very good opportunity for Republicans to pick up a seat,” said Bierfeldt.