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Former GOP congressman endorses two Democrats
Jim Leach says he’s looking for ‘decency’ in candidates
By Sarah Watson, - Quad-City Times
Jul. 28, 2022 6:00 am, Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 9:57 am
Former Eastern Iowa Republican Congressman Jim Leach is endorsing and voting for Democrats in Congress this election cycle.
Leach represented Iowa, in districts that included Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, in the U.S. House as a moderate Republican for 30 years until he lost re-election to former Rep. Dave Loebsack, a Democrat, in 2006.
Leach endorsed Joe Biden in 2020, and, for the first time, switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat to vote in the 2022 June primary.
Leach said the switch was prompted by a Republican Party that he sees as lurching to the right in its support for former President Donald Trump, leading up to lying about the 2020 election results and the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“My own view is that there is no excuse whatsoever for an insurrection," Leach said. "And that we're in one of the most profound challenges to American democracy ever, excepting the Civil War."
He added his switch was more of a rebuke to the national Republican Party than particular Iowa Republican members of Congress, whom he said he respects.
"Today, the Republican Party that I spent so many years with has really let the country down," Leach said. "And we need to have a political party that operates in a way that both parties can participate.
“The Republican Party has just torn itself apart, and it's got to pull itself together. I'll lean toward the Democratic Party as long as excellent people are running."
In particular, Leach said he wanted to endorse a University of Iowa College of Law colleague, Christina Bohannan, the Democrat running for the newly drawn 1st District because of her credentials as a law professor.
"This particular year could not be more appropriate for a law school professor to run," Leach said, referencing the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Bohannan, who is running to unseat Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, is a law professor with expertise in intellectual property law, the First Amendment and competition law, according to the UI College of Law biography. Bohannan ran in 2020 for statehouse, defeating a longtime Democratic incumbent.
The Miller-Meeks campaign did not comment on the endorsement Wednesday
Leach said he didn't hold any specific grievances with Miller-Meeks as a representative.
“She's intelligent and not an embarrassment to the state or anything,” he said of Miller-Meeks. “She's a decent person. I just don't see anyone standing up to Christina.”
Miller-Meeks was one of 35 House Republicans to vote to create the bipartisan House committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, which Leach applauded her for.
Bohannan, in a statement, said she was "honored" by Leach's endorsement.
“I have tremendous respect for Jim Leach and am honored to have his endorsement," Bohannan said. "As a congressman, he told the truth, served with honor and integrity, and put the people of southeast Iowa ahead of party politics.”
Leach also said he also would support Mike Franken, a former Navy admiral and Democrat running to unseat longtime U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Leach cited Franken's naval experience as being valuable to congressional proceedings and took issue with Grassley's role in ushering through conservative picks for the U.S. Supreme Court that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Iowa has trended red in recent years, and Leach said it would be "awfully, awfully hard“ for a Republican to win in a GOP primary.
Leach said he wasn't sure whether he'd keep his Democrat registration, nor who he would vote for in down-ballot races, but he would vote for candidates he considered to have "decency."
"We have an obligation to pull together and vote for anyone who has a moral capacity to lead in a credible way," Leach said.