This post may seem out of the ordinary for those who aren’t local readers, but this deserves your attention. The Republican primary race in Iowa’s 1st District between Rod Blum and Ben Lange is a very, very important race that–in my mind–rivals the importance of Scott Walker’s recall election. This race is between two men who (despite what the local media will tell you) are radically different. One–Ben Lange–is a 33 year-old lawyer from Independence, IA that is fresh out of college and Washington, DC, and all he wants is to get back to establish himself in the career system of the Republican establishment; the other–Rod Blum–is a 57 year-old successful businessman who has created hundreds of jobs, who has raised a wonderful and successful family, and who is absolutely committed to the Constitution and his constituency.
Rod already sounds like the better choice, doesn’t he?
This story really begins back in 2010 when Ben Lange received the Republican nomination to run against Democrat incumbent Bruce Braley, another lawyer. I and many other conservatives and libertarians supported Will Johnson in the primary, who is now running for the Republican nomination for Iowa Senate District 50 against Democrat incumbent Pam Jochum. But Lange won in a landslide–53 percent to Johnson’s 23 percent–because the primary race was split between four candidates (Jim Budde finished with 13 percent despite dropping out of the race, and Mike LaCoste received 12 percent of the vote).
Then knowing that my choice was between a Republican lawyer and a Democrat lawyer, I didn’t express any outright support for Lange, especially because I wasn’t old enough to vote at the time. I tuned out and let the campaigning play itself out over the next few months, hoping that Lange would win only so a Democrat incumbent that voted for Obamacare would get the boot.
It turned out that Lange barely lost to Braley in the general election–a difference of only 3,995 votes out of 203,907. This was very unexpected for the Braley campaign because they were very comfortable in their position. The previous two elections were won by double digit margins, so what reason did they have to be worried? It was in large part two factors that propelled Lange to that level: Braley’s vote on Obamacare, and an endorsement of Lange by the PAC American Future Fund. The Obamacare consequence is beyond obvious. But how did this PAC help Lange so much in a largely Democrat district?
Big money, that’s how. Now let me be clear (to use an Obamaism): I have absolutely no problem with PACs, super PACs, the Citizens United decision, or anything like that. Free speech cannot be infringed. What I do have a problem with are two things: One, when incumbents or challengers claim to be outside of the realm of big money after accepting endorsements from many of these PACs, or two, the fact that some of these PACs aren’t subject to donor disclosure laws.
Lange purports that he is a grassroots choice and that he represents the change that voters want to see in Washington, which is untrue on many fronts (which I will explain at length in a bit), but especially on the issue of big money backing candidates who will legislate on their behalf. American Future Fund is what’s known as a 1.91 group, and they have the ability to weasel around donor disclosure laws by following a set of “emergency regulations” instituted by the Government Accountability Office in May 2010 after the Citizens United decision.
Not only can’t you find out who has donated money to the PAC, but you can’t really find how they spend the money unless the PAC releases a press release with that information. You can’t even find out who are in leadership positions in the PAC without doing a thorough investigation. And unfortunately for the sake of transparency, those regulations don’t expire until July 1 of this year. Lange was endorsed by AFF in 2010 and again in this election cycle. AFF spent between $20 million and $25 million in 2010, $800,000 of which was directed toward television ads in IA-01. Again, there’s nothing illegal or unethical about agreeing to have this money spent on your behalf, but it utterly demolishes the idea that you’re the grassroots change that tea party types are yearning for. You can read more about AFF and how they are the same-old-same-old establishment types masquerading as grassroots free market activists via The Iowa Independent here, or Rachel Maddow’s investigation of the group from this video below.
(By no means do I agree with Maddow’s assessment of the facts, nor do I think Braley is a victim–for all his complaining about AFF attacking him, there was nearly $1 million spend on his behalf against Lange, and Braley raised nearly four times as much as Lange did to begin with. This is purely for explanatory purposes and, because no one else has really done an investigation into AFF, I have to resort to her populist dribble.)
Lange is very much like Braley, in that Braley has huge sums of money behind him and Lange is not far behind him. The top three groups behind Braley in 2010 were lawyers, healthcare workers, and the unions. The top three groups behind Lange were the PACs that supported him, the “retired,” and hospital workers. And the similarities continue down the line. Lange will just be another Bruce Braley in Republican form. Lange will go along with the Democrats to get along, as he explained last month in the only televised debate he was willing to participate in among many requests by the Blum campaign. You can view that entire debate here.
Lange hasn’t done anything to create jobs. He’s helped to start a law firm but he is not producing anything, nor is he sharing prosperity with others through the creation of jobs in the trickle-down system of capitalism. He’s willing to leave his young family and let them grow through their formative years without a father regularly involved in their lives. He isn’t an outright tea party supporter, and he has never gone into specifics about the Constitution and how he will honor his oath to it and the individual rights of his constituents. Of course, Braley falls into the same category. He helped start a law firm. Even though his children were grown up by the time Braley got into office, his voting record doesn’t support family values of life and liberty. And he’s definitely not a tea party supporter or follower of the Constitution–he’s as progressive as they come.
The key is that Rod Blum is nothing like Ben Lange or Bruce Braley. Blum helped Eagle Point Software go public in the last 1990s, and he’s led his current company Digital Canal to success with over 300 jobs created–he knows how to get the economy back on track. Blum stands for the right to life and will defund Planned Parenthood of federal dollars. Blum believes in a pro-America foreign policy–no unconstitutional wars, a return to the Department of “Defense” instead of “Offense,” and no foreign aid to our enemies. Blum is ready to buck the establishment by demanding deficit reduction, tax cuts, and entitlement reform. Blum is ready to do away with unconstitutional, ineffective federal departments like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. Blum knows that it is pertinent to secure the northern and southern US borders if we want to preserve our national security. Blum is adherent to individual liberties and states’ rights, and he wants to get the federal government off our backs.
And–possibly most important of all his qualifications–Blum wants to reform Congress and return it to the citizen legislature that the Founders intended. Blum will limit himself to three two-year terms; Lange will not. Blum will take a salary equal to the amount that the average American earns and work toward making all of Congress’s salaries the same; Lange will not. Blum will work to institute a lifetime ban on lobbying for former representatives; Lange will not. Blum will work to eliminate the current bloated pension plan for Congress and to make them participate in the same healthcare system the average American does; Lange will not. Blum will work to create a policy to suspend Congress’s pay if they breach a deadline for a budget; Lange will not.
You can read through the rest of Blum’s plan at www.RodBlum.com, or you can listen to his appearance on KDTH 1370 AM’s “Voice of the Tri-States” below.
So who will you choose on June 5? A young, power hungry lawyer named Ben Lange who doesn’t want to embrace the Constitution for political expediency? Or an experienced, accomplished businessman named Rod Blum who stands firm on the Constitution, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and family values?
Vote Rod Blum for real conservative change.