By KATHIE OBRADOVICH "¢ [email protected]
Republican Jim Gibbons of Des Moines, a former Iowa State University wrestling coach, will run for Congress in Iowa's 3rd Congressional District.
The winner of the GOP primary will take on incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell.
Gibbons, 50, said Thursday that he is leaving his job at Wells Fargo Advisors to pursue a full-time campaign. "I think anything that you do successfully, you can't do that with one foot in and one foot out, "he said.
He said he began thinking seriously about running when he got a call from an old friend, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion from the University of Wisconsin.
"He called me up in the middle of the summer and he asked, 'Jim have you ever considered running for Congress?' And I said, 'Every day.' "
Iowa has had a few wrestlers in top-level political positions, including former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa City, and former Iowa House Speaker Brent Siegrist of Council Bluffs. Republicans have tried, unsuccessfully so far, to recruit former Hawkeye wrestling coach Dan Gable to run for office.
"I think we're used to being in the arena alone, and going up against your component. So I think that lends itself well to being competitive, "Gibbons said.
Gibbons, a national champion wrestler and All-American in his junior year at ISU, coached ISU's wrestling team from 1986 to 1992. The team won the NCAA championship in 1987.
He said he's applying his background in coaching to his campaign - focusing on fundamentals like raising money and building up his campaign team. He notes that his coaching background has taught him how to motivate people and his financial services experience means he knows how to reach and talk to donors and other supporters. He also has TV experience, as a commentator for ESPN, among others.
"Excessive government spending "is the issue he points to as a priority, although he's not ready to talk about what federal programs he would cut. He's a critic of the federal stimulus bill as failing to create or sustain jobs, and he opposes cap and trade.
Gibbons will face Dave Funk of Runnells, a retired pilot, in the GOP primary. Sen. Brad Zaun of Urbandale also has said he's considering running. Gibbons starts with an advantage over the GOP field in terms of name identification, and he'll likely be able to raise the money to mount a competitive challenge.