In a district that votes 5 percent more Democratic than the nation as a whole, Steve Rathje believes a Republican can win.
Despite four victories in Iowa U.S. House 1st District by Waterloo Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley — the latest by 15 percentage points, Rathje says he can win by expanding the electorate.
With Braley not seeking re-election, the Cedar Rapids businessman is going after northeast Iowans who aren’t regular voters in order to win an open-seat race in 2014.
“We need the votes of those people who stayed home last time,” Rathje said. “They’re frustrated that arguments, not solutions, carry the day in Washington. It’s time to get beyond that. They want to vote for something, not someone.”
He thinks the 211,208 “no party” voters will more than make up for the 176,319 to 1434,942 edge Democrat have on Republican in the 20-county 1st District.
“The independent vote will put us over the top,” he said
“It’s all about solutions,” Rathje said. Too often politicians identify the problems and what needs to be done. “It’s time to start thinking about the ‘how.’”
Like many candidates, jobs and the economy are at the top of Rathje’s agenda. The difference, according to Rathje, 57, is that he has a track record. As founder and CEO of International Procurement Services and the Genesis Group, he works to bring fabricating jobs back to the U.S. from Mexico, China and elsewhere. He shows them how controlling quality and reducing waste will allow them to match the savings they see from outsourcing.
Rathje believes that his success negotiating in a competitive environment to convince other companies that his can be relied on is good training for Congress.
“I’m so passionate about getting jobs back to America that I can’t wait for the day when I have to look for a different job,” Rathje said.
He’s also calling for cuts in federal spending and a reduction in corporate taxes, both to make more money available for private – job-creating – investment, and a phased adoption of the Fair Tax, which is essentially a national sales tax.
The next step for him is winning the Republican primary. With Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen’s decision not to run for Congress, the only other candidate is Dubuque businessman Rod Blum. Although it’s in June 2014, Rathje doesn’t think it’s too soon to be campaigning.
“People have been talking about the next election since the last election,” he said.
On the campaign trail, whether he’s at a GOP Central Committee meeting or talking to folks in a convenience store, Rathje is more likely to seek their support by handing them a copy of his plan than by handing them a sales pitch.
“I’m not here to offer red meat rhetoric,” he said. Too often, candidates in primaries “sing to the choir and lose.”
Instead he talks about eliminating waste, cutting spending and bringing jobs back to America so people “are in a place where they can take care of themselves and their families.”
For more, visit www.steverathje.com.
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