Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy announced Wednesday that he is a candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District in the 2014 election.
The Dubuque Democrat said he will seek the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, who has announced plans to run for the U.S. Senate. Braley made that switch when Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Cumming, said he plans to retire in 2014 and not seek re-election to another six-year term.
“I feel excited about my opportunity to run for Congress,” Murphy said in an interview.
Murphy, 53, said he has knocked on doors in all 20 counties in the 1st District as a leader and candidate recruiter in the Iowa House the past 24 years. He said he has done a lot of team-building work and fundraising in the northeastern quadrant of the state that will help him in his 2014 campaign.
Iowa 1st congressional district includes Marshalltown, Decorah, Dubuque, Waterloo-Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids.
“I think I’d be a good candidate,” he said.
The former House speaker said he expects a crowded field in the primary race for his party’s 1st District nomination but, having grown up in a family with nine children, he said he’s comfortable with that kind of dynamic.
Murphy said he considered running in 2006, but he and his wife, Teri, decided the time wasn’t right. His four children are grown now. He said he chose to step down from leadership in the Iowa House to position himself for an opportunity to run for Congress should it arise.
As a member of Congress, Murphy said he would like to keep the focus on growing the U.S. economy and jobs, improving education and promoting renewable energy sources like soy diesel and wind energy. He also would champion middle-class Americans in the tradition of Harkin and Braley.
“There seems to be a huge attack on the middle class, especially with seniors in the areas of Social Security and Medicare,” he said of the current GOP-run U.S. House. “They’re not focused on the economy, which is a huge issue in this country right now. They’re focused too much on partisan bickering.”
Murphy said he thought the legislative accomplishments while he was speaker – raising the state’s minimum wage, creating a quality early children program for 4-year-olds, holding the line on college tuition increases, funding higher education and job training programs at Iowa’s community colleges, providing small business health care reform, passing a local option sales tax for K-12 schools, and expanding civil rights for Iowans will help him in his run for Congress.
“I think we did a ton of wonderful things,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done a very good job here.”
Murphy is a 1977 Dubuque Wahlert High School. He majored in speech and minored in history and political science at Loras College. He has owned his own business and worked in various capacities at Mercy Health Center, CyCare Systems Inc., Hillcrest Family Services and Northeast Iowa Community College.