Race for Braley's open seat will be a hot one, experts say - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Race for Braley's open seat will be a hot one, experts say

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Iowa's next congressman representing the First District will be from Dubuque.

Results from primary elections show Democratic state representative Pat Murphy will go head-to-head with Republican businessman Rod Blum.

Both men are native Dubuquers and both candidates won by a landslide Tuesday night in their home county of Dubuque, but experts say the two have their work cut out for them; Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, also in Iowa's First Congressional District, are bigger than Dubuque. The District also includes a total of 20 counties.

"This is not about Dubuque, it's not about Waterloo and it's not about Cedar Rapids," Murphy told reporters on election night. "It's about all 20 counties and the 750,000 people that live in this First District and doing what's best for all of them-- not just for one community or one county."

The two candidates may share a common geography, but they differ on issues such as the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"There are millions, if not billions, of healthcare decisions being made every single day in eastern Iowa and around the country, and it's pretty personal - people's healthcare is personal to them," Blum said Wednesday afternoon in an exclusive interview with KWWL. "And to think that 535 suits in Washington DC can command and control the healthcare marketplace on puppet strings, to me, is patently insane. It's destined for failure."

KWWL also reached out to Murphy Wednesday for an interview, but Murphy declined the offer.

In his interview with reporters on election night, however, Murphy called the Affordable Care Act a good thing for Iowans and for America.

"There's eight million Americans that have access to health care right now because of the Affordable Care Act. We need to protect that program," Murphy said. "We have Medicaid expansion in this state that over 100,000 Iowans have had access to. We need to make sure that we keep access to health care available to every American that wants to have it."

Chris Budzisz is associate professor of politics at Loras College in Dubuque. He said having two congressional candidates from the same city is rare.

"One interesting thing might occur, which is that these two candidates, who are from Dubuque, don't really spend that much time in Dubuque; They spend their time in these other places, where they're maybe not as well known," Budzisz saiWednesdayay in his office. "I think House member Murphy is well-known, generally speaking, through the area, through this part of eastern Iowa. I think Rod Blum is going to be working very hard to make sure he gets his name out there."

Murphy is a long-time state representative, representing his hometown of Dubuque in the statehouse for a quarter-century, including four years as Iowa's House Democratic Minority Leader and then four years as Speaker of the House.

Blum, on the other hand, has never held office. It's a fact he highlights.

"[Murphy] has name recognition because he's been in politics for 27 years, and the people I'm talking to do not want more career politicians," Blum said. "They think that the career politicians are part of the problem, not part of the solution, and this mess that we're currently in - that Washington D.C. has gotten us in - is because of politicians."

Budzisz said it's anybody's game.

"The conventional wisdom is that this is a seat that the Democrats have a good chance to hold on to. They do have an advantage in voter registration in this Congressional District, so there are more registered Democrats than there are registered Republicans, but there are more registered no-party voters than both of those," he said. "So I think that this is going to be something that the Democrats are going to focus on: making sure they can turn out their base so they can take advantage of that registration total, and the Republicans are going to be hoping for the fact that this is a year that, typically, as a second-term mid-term election of a president, that this is one of those years that the party outside of power tends to do very well."

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