DES MOINES — Dave Loebsack’s first election to Congress came in 2006, a wave year for Democrats.
While he declined to make predictions, Loebsack said Monday at the Iowa State Fair that he feels there are opportunities for Democrats to make political hay in this fall’s elections.
“I think Democrats have real opportunities, but I’m not going to venture to guess whether Democrats will take over the (U.S.) House or not. I think there are real opportunities, though. There’s no question about that. Here in Iowa, as well,” Loebsack told reporters after speaking at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox.
In 2006, Democrats were buoyed by voter unrest in the wake of Republican President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.
While noting Bush is different from Republican President Donald Trump, Loebsack said he sees similarities between 2006 and 2018.
“In 2005, I thought there might be a wave. ... I thought there might be real opposition to what the president was doing, especially in Iraq, but other things as well,” Loebsack said.
“(This year) I think there’s a lot going on out there in reaction to what the president (Trump) has done on any number of issues.”
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In that first victory in 2006, Loebsack defeated Republican incumbent Jim Leach, who had served in Congress for 30 years. Loebsack said he does not give much advice to his fellow Democrats seeking to defeat incumbents this year other than to stay true to their district.
Loebsack offered the criticism that the Democratic Party can get too hung up on an overarching message or issue.
“I really don’t give a lot of advice to people because I really believe that those people who are running in those areas probably know their districts pretty well,” Loebsack said.
“I think part of the problem with my party is that they talk about a message, they talk about issues and all the rest, but those are not the same everywhere around the country. ...
“Going forward, the best thing the Democratic Party can do would be to recognize that the Midwest is not San Francisco. It’s not Long Island or Queens. It’s completely different. Even in the Midwest, the districts are different.”
Democrats often are asked, for example, whether they support universal, government-funded health care, or whether U.S. House candidates will support keeping Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House Democrats’ leader.
“They can come up with whatever they want to come up with, but I need to talk about the issues and respond to people in my district, what’s affecting them every day. And that’s what matters to me,” Loebsack said.