ENCORE: Lange Beats Blum, Now Faces Incumbent Braley in November
The new Republican nominee for Iowa's 1st District barely has time to think before he gears up for his campaign against the district's Democratic incumbent, Bruce Braley.
Sure, Ben Lange has become the Republican nominee for Iowa’s 1st district in the 2012 election after defeating Rod Blum in Tuesday's primary election.
But now he is up against the incumbent he lost to in the last election, Bruce Braley. Braley will be tougher competition than Blum, who hadn't run before, said Tim Hagle, University of Iowa Associate Professor of Political Science.
Still, tonight was the high point of Lange’s campaign thus far. Lange said that he thinks he’s earned it.
"We are not in this position because we are lucky," he said. "We put the time and the effort in."
In his victory speech, Lange complimented Blum.
"He ran a hard fought campaign and I wish him well," he said. "He did a good job out there on the ground, putting the time in."
Blum did not respond to Marion Patch, but told the Des Moines Register he now has time to spend time with his family.
He has four kids, and, he and his wife have been taking care of a 21-year-old after his father was killed in a Chicago drug deal and his mother died of cancer.
"(I'm) in my living room with my family, who I haven’t seen much in the last seven months," Blum said to the Register.
Despite the victory, the general election where Lange will face U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley will loom over Lange’s head for the next five months.
Hagle said there are three factors which make this race so difficult to call, that Hagle himself won’t take a stab at it.
First, the district lines have been redrawn since Lange first took on Braley, which Lange said is in his favor.
"Redistricting has given us a significant advantage," he said, adding that Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad won the district as it is today by 5,000 votes over former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver.
Second, Hagle said Braley has a large advantage as an incumbent. The political and fundraising connections he’s made since he began his first term in 2007 gives him a huge leg up.
Finally, there’s the economy. Hagle said the state of the economy has a large effect on voters. A move towards recovery can be beneficial to Braley, while stagnation could benefit Lange, who campaigns as a social conservative concerned with the national debt.
Hagle said the election will most reliably be decided on by the campaigning efforts of both sides to recruit the new areas of the district, but to him, that's up in the air.
"The question now will be who can adjust his game plan so to speak to the new counties," Hagle said.