CEDAR RAPIDS — Former state legislators and Iraq War veterans Ray Zirkelbach is starting another campaign, this one for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Zirkelbach is the fourth candidate in the race for the nomination to challenge Sen. Chuck Grassley, who will be seeking his seventh term in 2016.
Although the field is getting crowded — former legislators Bob Krause of Fairfield and Tom Fiegen of Clarence, and State Sen. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids have all entered the race — Zirkelbach, 37, believes he’ll be the Democratic Party’s best candidate to defeat Grassley. His ideas will set him apart from the others, Zirkelbach said.
The presidential race may be at the top of the ticket in 2016, but Zirkelbach said it will be about more than the Democratic nominee.
“It’s about progress,” he said.
Zirkelbach plans to announce formation of an exploratory committee at the Jones County Democratic Party’s dinner Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Fawn Creek Country Club.
He represented much of Jones County from 2005-11 in the Iowa House. However, he was absent from the House in 2006 and 2007 while on active duty in Iraq as a sergeant in the Iowa Army National Guard.
During his last term, Zirkelbach was chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee and a member of the Agriculture, Labor and Public Safety committees as well as Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee.
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A native of Manchester, he graduated from high school in Monticello. Zirkelbach has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming’s in administrations and justice program. He worked as a correctional officers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
Later, he worked on his own doing construction and reconstruction and more recently for Advancement Services of Jones County.
Zirkelbach also underwent neck surgery to address a spinal injury suffered while in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart.
He lives in Monticello and is the father of two children.