Pate says he won't seek Iowa U.S. House 1st District seat

Former Cedar Rapids mayor says campaign would pull him away from family

With his wife Jane at his side, Cedar Rapids Mayor Paul Pate answers questions after announcing he would not seek re-ele
With his wife Jane at his side, Cedar Rapids Mayor Paul Pate answers questions after announcing he would not seek re-election at City Hall in Cedar Rapids on Mays Island in July 2005. (Gazette file photo)

Two months after all but entering the race for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s U.S. House 1st District, Paul Pate has decided against running.

“I’m going to pass on it at this time,” the former Cedar Rapids mayor said Monday. “It just isn’t going to work with my priorities at this time.”

Pate called the 1st District race “very winnable,” but being in Washington would take him away from his family, which includes his elderly parents, his children and grandchildren.

"I’m not willing to make the commitment to leave my family and be in Washington and miss out on them,” he said.

“Washington is a little farther away than Des Moines,” where he served in the Iowa Senate and as a Secretary of State, Pate said. During that time he commuted to and from Des Moines “almost daily.”

The U.S. House race, which would involve a GOP primary in June 2014, would be long, Pate said. “It’s every two years so it never lets up, it’s a swing district, so whether you’re Democrat or Republican you’ll be battling every time.”

Right now, Pate’s more interested in “watching my grandchildren, taking them to music class or dace or gymnastics.”

“I want to watch them grow up. It only happens once and I want to be there,” he said.

He’s not closing the door on public service.

“That’s something I have a strong calling for … but I’m more inclined to run for school board or dogcatcher or something local rather than for something in Washington,” Pate said.

That leaves a field of three Republicans seeking the nomination in the open-seat district that includes Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Cedar Falls-Waterloo and Marshalltown.

Businessmen Steve Rathje of Cedar Rapids and Rod Blum of Dubuque, both who have run before, are in the race, along with Rep. Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls, who entered the race in September.

Rogers’ entry into the race just at the time he was considering a campaign did not influence Pate, who expressed concern that neither Blum nor Rathje was gaining traction with GOP voters.

Pate didn’t endorse Rogers, but said “whether he’s the guy or he inspires the others to get off their tails and go out and do it, I’m hopeful it changes the picture for Republican side in a positive way.”Five Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination in the 20-county district. Incumbent Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, is seeking a U.S. Senate seat rather than re-election in the 1st District.