Today in Iowa hosts Republican congressional debate Friday - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Today in Iowa hosts Republican congressional debate Friday

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - KWWL's Today in Iowa will host a debate among the Republican candidates vying for Iowa's First District congressional seat Friday.

Watch the debate live during the 6 a.m. hour, and also receive live updates via Twitter by following @KWWL.

The three Republicans in the running are Gail Boliver, Rod Blum and Steve Rathje.

Biographies and additional information are below:

Gail Boliver

Gail has roots firmly planted in rural and small town Iowa, having grown up on a farm near Grinnell.

After graduating from Grinnell High School, he attended Iowa State University to study political science, and married his high school sweetheart, Janeen.

Gail’s first call to serve his country came as a commission in the United States Air Force after graduating from ISU.

He and Janeen moved to Arizona, where Gail spent four years as a T-38 instructor pilot at Williams Air Force Base. During his time in Arizona, Gail also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Arizona State University.

After the Air Force, Gail followed his dream of becoming an attorney by completing his juris doctorate degree at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. But his passion for serving his country had never waned, so he became an Air Force Reserve legal officer in Nebraska, and eventually assumed a similar position in the Iowa Air National Guard. He retired from the military with 25 years of service to the country.

Gail’s law practice in Marshalltown, Omaha, and Grinnell has spanned 30 years, and has focused primarily on securities, where Gail has been a champion for investors’ rights, bankruptcy and immigration law.

His quest for knowledge has also brought him back to Iowa State University for a Master of Science degree in International Relations. His family has also grown during this time to include three sons and now eight grandchildren.

His commitment to service has also led Gail to be an active participant in the community with organizations such as the Red Cross, local youth sports, American Legion, Marshalltown Board of Education, On With Life in Ankeny, and the ISU College of Business advisory council, to name a few.

In seeking the 1st District Congressional seat, Gail is looking forward to another chapter of service to his community, state and country.

More about candidate Boliver can be found at:

Rod Blum

My name is Rod Blum. I am a businessman from Dubuque who is running for Congress in the First District.

My father quit school in the 10th grade and lied about his age so he could enlist in the Navy during WWII. My mother cleaned houses to help us make ends meet.

My father always told me that if I "played by the rules," I would live a better life than he and Mom.

I followed my father’s rules and he was correct – I DO live a better life than he and Mom did. That’s most folks' definition of the American Dream.

Starting with nothing, I worked my butt off to put myself through college. I entered the software industry on the ground floor and set out to achieve my version of the American Dream. Our software company grew from five to 325 employees in just five years and, as a result, I was named Iowa Entrepreneur of the Year in the High-Tech category.

I am also a real estate developer, high school basketball coach, student pilot and conservative columnist.

• I’ve met a payroll every week for 24 years.
• I’ve balanced a budget for 24 years.
• I’ve created jobs in the private sector.
• I’ve taken risks – and sometimes failed. But I’ve never expected a government bailout.
• I’ve had to deal, every day, with the burdens that Washington, D.C., puts on business.

I’m running for Congress because recent polls have shown that 80 percent of Americans do not believe their children will be better off than their parents. One of the things that has separated our great country from the rest of the world is our citizens have always had hope and belief for a better tomorrow – belief that our children will live better than us. Every generation in this country has lived better than the previous – I am fighting to keep that dream alive for our children.

More about candidate Blum can be found at:

Steve Rathje

Mary and I live just outside Cedar Rapids. I am the founder and CEO of International Procurement Services, Inc. as well as The Genesis Group, Inc. Mary, is a teacher at Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School and has taught within the Cedar Rapids Community School District since 1980. We have four children, 10 grandchildren, with our first great-grandchild (a grandson) coming soon! Please feel free to visit my profile page on Facebook to learn more about our family.

Growing up, I observed my parents success as they operated a construction company that they started from scratch in 1961. Often, they worked six or seven days a week, and that strong work ethic and attention to detail is what their company, Rathje Construction Company, thrived on.

Today, Rathje Construction has expanded to a location on Marion’s east side and is operated by my brothers, Robert and Kenneth, along with one of my nephews. That same work ethic and attention to detail is what I believe are the cornerstones of my company’s success as well.

I began my career in manufacturing at the age of 18, sweeping steel shavings from a machine shop floor. I then studied to become a machinist, a welder and an assembly technician. Within a few years I was promoted to shop supervisor, and then plant superintendent (the youngest in the company’s history).

Not long after, I was promoted to purchasing, as a buyer, then purchase agent, and finally the Director of Outsource Manufacturing. As Director, I discovered a niche in the manufacturing industry, saving my employer millions of dollars and believed with the work ethic I knew I possessed, and a never-say-die attitude, I could do the same for other companies as well, and all while bringing the good paying jobs they felt they had to outsource to Asia, Canada, Mexico, India and Europe, back home to America where they belong.

That said, in 1992, I took a risk and left the security of a good-paying job and formed International Procurement Services, Inc. and began the rewarding work of bringing those manufacturing jobs home to the United States. After nearly 20 years in business, my company has brought millions of dollars of manufactured components home from overseas. The hard work and the risk paid off, jobs are coming home, and more Iowans and more Americans are back to work because of it. 

There’s still a lot of work to be done, and I believe it is leaders with real-life experience, good judgment, integrity, and the ingenuity to both analyze problems and propose bold solutions that will get the job done.

That is exactly what I’ve accomplished in the private sector, and it’s those same skills, and the solutions derived from them, that I’ll be taking to Washington if elected to Congress.

Iowans deserve leaders that will focus on doing what is best for our future while embracing bold ideas with the conviction to see them through. So if you have any questions, let’s talk. Unlike the politicians you’re used to, I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

More about candidate Rathje can be found at:


KWWL's Today in Iowa held the Democratic candidate debate March 7; click here to view it:

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