INDEPENDENCE- Congressman Rod Blum was considered a surprise winner in 2014 when he narrowly defeated Dubuque lawmaker Pat Murphy 51% to 49% in the first congressional district. This go around, with odds stacked against him again, Blum hopes is track record in Congress will push him over the top. The 61-year-old Dubuque Republican said on Tuesday that he considers himself to be beholding only to Eastern Iowans.
“I’m an independent, common sense voice for Eastern Iowa,” Blum said on Tuesday while campaigning in Independence.
Blum highlighted two pieces of legislation that he helped pass when reflecting on his first term in Congress. Blum said that he authored legislation that renamed the Cedar Rapids postal facility after Sgt. Terry Pasker, who was a Cedar Rapids homebuilder killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Blum said that a ceremony for the renaming will be held later this summer.
Blum also highlighted legislation he authored to help protect whistleblowers who shed light on waste, fraud, and corruption.
“We need more whistleblowers to come forward in our federal government. It’s too big for members of Congress to root out [fraud],” Blum said.
Blum said that the legislation he got passed in the House is currently in the Senate.
“Hopefully the Senate gets it passed this summer yet and we get it to the President’s desk,” Blum said.
Earlier this month, Blum came under attack from Monica Vernon, his Democrat opponent in the general election, over his support for the First Amendment Defense Act. Vernon held a rally outside Blum’s Cedar Rapids Congressional Office on July 14, where she attacked Blum for support of what she called “discriminatory” legislation. Blum called the rally a stunt and said that his opponent is misinformed on the legislation.
“I think she should read the bill because the bill does the exact opposite of what her political stunt was professing,” Blum said.
Blum clarified his support the legislation saying that the bill seeks to protect people from “retaliation” by the federal government because of religious beliefs. He noted that the legislation is only an idea and hasn’t formally been voted on by the House Oversight Committee.
“It may never come out of it [committee],” Blum said.
Blum also responded to recent police shootings and attacks on police officers.
“As a society, we need to have zero tolerance of people assassinating our police officers,” Blum said. “It’s not only a crime; it’s a hate crime,” Blum also said.
Blum also levied blame against President Obama, saying the President hasn’t done enough to help the situation.
“I personally wish our President of the United States would do more to calm the situation down,” Blum said. “I don’t get the sense he was really tried to calm down a potentially explosive situation,” Blum also said.
The Congressman said that one way to help calm down tensions would be for police officers to interact with people in “at risk” neighborhood in a positive role. He suggested that people who live in “at risk” neighborhoods may only have interactions with police officers in negative situations.
“I think they need to get to know police officers in good situations and learn the police officers are actually there to protect them,” Blum said.
He also laid some blame at the Black Lives Matter organization, saying that the group had hurled derogatory names and phrases at police officers.
“That is no way to represent an organization. To me, that sounds like the words of a terrorist. To me, that sounds like the words of a serial killer or a thug,” Blum said.
Blum’s stop in Independence came in the middle of the 2016 Republican National Convention, which nominated Donald Trump for President and Mike Pence for Vice President. Blum said he intends to support the ticket. He noted that he does not agree with Trump on every issue.
“There is not a nominee out there that agrees with me on every issue,” Blum said.
Blum said that one reason why he supports Trump is because of the vacancy on the US Supreme Court. He said that he wants to see the vacancy filled by a President who is in line with his political views.
“I’d certainly like to have somebody that see things more the way I see it and, I think, the way a majority of eastern Iowa sees it, rather than having a liberal pick the next supreme court [justice],” Blum said.
Blum said that he believes Iowan’s should re-elect him because he has always followed through on his campaign promises and is not afraid to take on his own party. He noted that the first vote he ever cast as a Congressman was against John Boehner in the January 2015 Speaker of the House election.
“Not an easy vote for a freshman to make,” Blum said. “It cost me connections; it cost me fundraising to go against the speaker,” he also said.
Ultimately, Blum says that a major reason he should be sent back to Congress is because of his support for measures that would take away “luxuries” of being a legislator. He noted that he has fought against legislators from being able to have access to first class travel and luxury car leases. He has also sponsored legislation that would end the congressional pension system, and legislation that would place a lifetime ban on former members of Congress from being lobbyists.
“I have fought to clean up Washington D.C.,” Blum said.
Rod Blum will face democrat Monica Vernon on the November 8 general election ballot.