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From the farm to the campaign trail: Campbell hoping to unseat Rep. Steve King in November

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Following a discussion over lunch Democratic congressional candidate Matt Campbell and Justin McCormick reminisce about their experiences on the Rural Electric Cooperative Association Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., in 1988 and 2009, respectively. The two examined how the RECA has changed over the years.
(Photo by Gabe Licht)
Traditions run deep in Matt Campbell's family. Since his great-great-grandfather James Alexander Campbell established a farm south of Manning in 1880, four generations of Campbells have been raised there. Not only is Matt's family known for their century farm, but also for their traditionally Republican values.

"My grandpa and my dad are both Republicans," Campbell said. "Most people in the country are either Republican or Democrat because their parents happened to be and they kind of get pulled into that... I was raised to think on my own."

Campbell is a Democrat by choice and has now chosen to campaign for Iowa's Fifth District in the U.S. House. His name will be on the Democratic primary ballot on June 8 against Mike Denklau of Council Bluffs for the chance to run against incumbent Rep. Steve King.

"I just really feel that we're not being represented well," Campbell told a table of supporters during lunch Saturday in Spencer. "King has not written a bill that's become law. I'm starting to tell people, 'Give me a chance and I'll do more in two years than the man's done since 2002.'"

Campbell believes his education and work experiences make him a viable candidate for the job.

While earning a Bachelor of Arts double major in political science and economics from Morningside College in Sioux City, he served as a volunteer, intern and temporary caseworker for Sen. Tom Harkin and also campaigned for Harkin in Iowa and New Hampshire when he ran for president in 1992.

Following graduation from Morningside in 1993, he went on to achieve a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law and in 2001 obtained a Master of Laws in taxation from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

As a tax lawyer, Campbell worked for KPMG and most recently served as the South region lead for international tax for BKD, LLP in Houston, Texas -- the 10th largest accounting and auditing firm in the nation.

In that position, he worked primarily with nonpublic companies averaging between $20 million and $300 million in annual revenue.

"Those are the types of industries we need to get more established in Iowa," Campbell said. He hopes to bring more businesses and jobs to Iowa by pursuing Iowa's fair share of stimulus dollars, creating a liaison for renewable energy projects and establishing a liaison for economic development.

Stimulus dollars would be used for the construction of high-technology manufacturing plants.

The renewable energy liaison would help investors identify which projects are most logical, mandate interchange agreements for local energy producers and guarantee financing to get projects started.

An economic development liaison would provide better assistance for small businesses and work with regional groups to identify the 50 fastest growing high-technology companies in western Iowa.

Another important issue for Campbell is financial regulation reform that increases oversight of the financial sector.

While King has made his opposition to the health care reform bill apparent, Campbell supports the bill and believes the majority of Americans will support it once they understand it.

"Part of the problem was that people were confused as to what was in the bill," he said.

He believes the bill will ultimately save Americans money and has vowed to make changes to it if that does not happen.

"I'm not for health insurance reform if it raises taxes or increases premiums," he clarified. "If there are any effects like that, I would reform it because we don't need new taxes and we don't need further increases in insurance premiums."

While he agreed with Democrats on health care reform, he is not afraid to disagree with his party on key issues.

He supported the decision for military action in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but believes that more humanitarian efforts should have been made and that involvement in both countries should begin "winding down."

On the topic of immigration, he considers himself a law and order Democrat and opposes any kind of amnesty for illegal immigrants currently in the U.S.

Overall, he believes he can identify with Iowans and wants to give them a choice.

"I want to let people get to know me and if they know I've got that deep love of God and country like what they do and just differ on some details and some of the underlying legislation, I think they'll feel comfortable with me," he said. I really got into the race to give people a choice... If they're hungry for something different ..., they can vote for somebody different."

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I don't know much about Campbell, and I don't share some of his political ideas, but I do agree wholeheartedly with one of his very first points: "Most people in the country are either Republican or Democrat because their parents happened to be and they kind of get pulled into that... I was raised to think on my own."

This is so true, and I'm glad Campbell mentioned it. Many people I know chose a party based on their family's political history, and also vote straight down the party line, no matter what the issue. I have a friend that refers to these people as "lemmings" and the comparison makes sense- lemmings have long been associated with (perhaps inaccurately) with following each other determinedly, even to their deaths over a cliff, into water, etc. Allowing one party to control your vote without forethought on each issue, or subscribing to a party's candidates because your parents did is political "lemming suicide".

I realize that this isn't the main point of the article, but it is an issue that hits- well, not home, because my parents did a very good job of not drilling their own political beliefs into me and raising me as an independent thinker- but is very close to me. I'm glad Campbell brought it up, and although I'm a conservative, I'm willing to do a little more research into him.

-- Posted by notinia on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 5:59 AM

George Washington said in his farewell address that political parties would be a destructive force in our country if allowed to continue. Was he ever right. I wish we could all step out of our usual party affiliation and look at each candidate for his or her own personal merits and values.

King has never written a bill that's become law? Yet he has all this time to make crazy statements that make our district look idiotic, assault bloggers and dream of starting his own country. I think it's time for a new person at that post who will look out for us, the constituents.

Of course, I think this year we should fire the entire House of Representatives -- all of them -- gone. From Nancy Pelosi to Arizona's Trent Franks -- whom the National Journal calls the most conservative representative -- I wish the voters would throw them all out so we can start over.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 11:17 AM

I would like to see King debate Mr.Campbell. So far, King has absolutely refused to debate any of his opponents. I guess he feels most comfortable in situations where he doesn't have to defend his extremist ideas and rhetoric.

-- Posted by sajohnson on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 6:48 PM

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