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Newman Abuissa 'restarting' campaign in Iowa's 2nd District race for U.S. House

Democrat seeking seat being vacated by Rep. Dave Loebsack

Newman Abuissa
Newman Abuissa

CORALVILLE — As one construction season is winding down, Newman Abuissa of Iowa City is starting another project — building a campaign for the U.S. House in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

Abuissa, an Iowa Department of Transportation engineer deeply involved in the Forevergreen Road project at North Liberty and the Interstate 80-380 interchange, is “restarting” his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the House seat held by the retiring Rep. Dave Loebsack.

Abuissa, 58, announced in June he would run for the open seat, but his campaign was mostly dormant over the summer as he concentrated on work. Now he’s working with a core group of supporters to build his campaign structure.

“I want to make that clear to my audience that I am an engineer. I’m a builder,” Abuissa said. “This is really what my campaign is about — it’s about building, not about politics as usual. I think I am sick and tired of politics as usual. And I am also sick of the status quo. I see lots of faults in the status quo politics.”

Although he’s getting a late start compared with former state Sen. Rita Hart of Wheatland, who also is running for the Democratic nominatino, Abuissa doesn’t think he’s too late to be nominated. Democrats are preoccupied with presidential candidates in the run-up to the 2020 presidential caucuses.

“Things will change on Feb. 3,” Abuissa said. “I’ve been here before, and people will have more space for local elections after the caucuses.”

When they do, Abuissa will be ready to discuss his forward-looking ideas about the economy, health care and reclaiming the United States’ traditional moral authority in the world.

The U.S. is the most advanced country in the world, but it is lagging behind other nations.

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He attributes that, in part, to the $6 trillion the U.S. has spent on regime-change wars in the Middle East. During that time, the economy has been growing by 2 percent to 3 percent a year, but Chin’s economy has been growing at an annual rate of 6 percent to 9 percent.

“We have to bring that money back and invest in our people and our infrastructure and our future,” Abuissa said.

Abuissa talks about building communications systems — high-quality broadband to open new opportunities for education, health care and business.

Iowa’s prosperous old businesses should be taking advantage of the new economy, he said. “We need to take advantage of the technology to create new businesses in health care and education, in many other sectors of the economy, to use the flood of information. We need to manage that information and put it for our use.”

His prescription for health care

Abuissa considers health care a human right. If prescription drug prices continue to rise, “pretty soon there’ll be a company delivering drugs from Canada by drone,” he joked.

The answer, Abuissa said, may be Medicare-for-All, “but it might not happen in one day.”

“I have the goal of Medicare for All, but I also have to deal with the reality in Washington,” he said. “I have to work to do the achievable.”

What’s achievable, he said, may be lowering the age for Medicare participation to cover more Americans “and taking other steps to move in that direction.”

Abuissa also is concerned that America is ceding its moral authority under the Trump administration. He points to the president’s recent changes in policies toward Turkey and Kurds who had been allied with U.S. forces.

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Abuissa, who leads the International Affairs Subcommittee on the Iowa Democratic Party, said cooperation rather than “bullying” should guide foreign policy.

“We need to partner with them to help them do what is good for us,” he said about China and India. “If they are doing something which is good for us, we need to help them.

“They are buying our products” and growing middle classes in those countries will create more markets for American goods and services, Abuissa said.

It’s not just about markets, he added.

“We have to stick to our own old-fashioned moral authority for human rights for democracy,” he said. “And we need to keep the pressure on them to go in that direction.”

Primary election

The Democratic primary will be June 2. The winner will face the winner of the GOP primary race between state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa and LeClaire businessman Bobby Schilling.

For more on Abuissa, go here.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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