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Congressional candidate visits Marengo Jan. 19

By NICK NARIGON

Former Iowa State wrestling coach Jim Gibbons made a campaign stop in Marengo Tuesday, Jan. 19, visiting with the Iowa County Republicans, local media and even attending part of the Iowa Valley girls basketball game.

Gibbons is one of three Republican candidates vying to unseat Representative Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s Third Congressional District.

Gibbons also might be the most well-known candidate competing in the June primary election. He was a three-time All American wrestler for Iowa State and an NCAA champion in 1981. He went on to become the head wrestling coach at Iowa State and led the Cyclones to the 1987 national championship, one of the youngest coaches ever to do so.

For the last two decades, Gibbons has worked in the financial services industry in Des Moines, most recently as a vice president with Wells Fargo.

In an interview with the NEWSpapers of Iowa County, Gibbons said it is his success in wrestling, coaching and in the financial sector that makes him a viable candidate for congress.

“I want to show passion for the job, and show that I have a high energy level for going and representing Iowa, which is kind of what I have done my whole life as an athlete and a coach,” Gibbons said.

This will be Gibbons’ first run for any political position, and he said it is something he has been contemplating for some time. It took a phone call from Ohio congressman, and former wrestling rival, Jim Jordan to nudge Gibbons toward making the political leap.

“(Jordan) called me up and said, what do you think about running for congress? I said I think about it quite a bit,” Gibbons said.

He said in his financial career, he has worked with people from all walks of life, 21-year-olds starting their first 401k, young families saving for college and retirement and elderly folks dealing with transitional issues and state tax issues.

“Even just developing a solid income stream for folks in this volatile market has been a tough challenge. I think that with all the government spending we are doing it has made it tough for people to go ahead and make good solid decisions,” Gibbons said. “I think the government spending has got people spooked. People are getting less optimistic about the future of their children and grandchildren. We have got to stabilize that and get back to the fundamentals of what this government is about. It is limited government. We have to allow the private sector to innovate and succeed.”

Gibbons talked about a few issues, specifically the health care bill and the cap and trade bill.

He said he is concerned the current health care bill in the senate does not do anything to combat the rising inflation of health care. He said the state of Iowa already subsidizes health care and should be used as a model for the nation. He pointed out that Iowa is 48th in Medicare reimbursements and 9 percent of Iowans are uninsured, compared to the national average of 16 percent.

“It is not perfect, but we are doing a lot of things correct here in Iowa. Maybe we ought to be the standard for what is happening,” Gibbons said. “I have a difficult time saying the public option is the way to go, to allow government to go ahead and take that over.”

He said he also opposes the cap and trade bill, saying the bill would hurt Iowa farmers. He said it will increase the fuel costs for farmers, who are already spending extravagant amounts of money on fuel to dry crops.

Being new to politics, and potentially facing five-term incumbent Boswell, will be challenging, Gibbons said, but he is up for the challenge.

“You show energy and passion for doing the job. Show the willingness to compete at the highest level. We are doing that,” Gibbons said. “We have an organization in place. We will continue to go out there and make a presence. We had a fantastic fundraising core this last quarter, and that is just going to take a lot of money to unseat an incumbent, it will also take a lot of work, but I am pretty much doing this full-time.”

UPDATED January 27, 2010 12:04 PM

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