Newly elected Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken is weighing a run for the U.S. House seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, saying he wants to bring “a more assertive approach” to Washington on behalf of the district’s voters.
“I have the commitment, and I think I have the experience to be effective,” Croken said recently.
Loebsack, first elected in 2006, announced in mid-April that he would retire at the end of his next two-year term. Since then, several Democrats have expressed interest in representing the district, which covers 24 counties across southeast Iowa. Others openly considering the office or thought to be in the running include Iowa Sen. Zach Wahls, Sen. Kevin Kenney, Iowa City businesswoman Veronica Tessler, Quad-Cities attorney Ian Russell and former state Sen. Rita Hart.
"I think they could expect similar policy positions but a more aggressive approach," Croken said of what voters would see if he's elected, reflecting on Loebsack's 12 years in Congress. He added that the circumstances have changed over the past two years, and the "erosion of American values" during that time "requires a more strident response than was perhaps the case in 2006."
Meanwhile, the absence of Loebsack from the ballot is likely to trigger a highly competitive push from Republicans eager to wrestle the district away from Democratic control in the November 2020 election. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the main campaign arm of congressional Republicans, already had listed his seat — along with another two picked up last year by Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer — among its 55 offensive targets for 2020 before Loebsack made it known that he would bow out.
As he mulls a run for what could be one of the hardest-fought contests over the district in recent memory, Croken has formed an advisory committee consisting of labor leaders, party activists and Scott County Democratic elected officials. Above all, Croken said it is important to him that a qualified person is nominated to beat whomever emerges as the Republican Party’s candidate.
“It’s critically important to me and to a lot of other people that this seat remain in the hands of a progressive voice,” Croken said. “When you look back over the last couple of elections, ours is decidedly a swing district. It could go either way.”
In Congress, Croken says his top priority would be environmental restoration, saying “we’re beyond environmental protection.”
“I’m expecting my first grandson in a couple of weeks’ time, and I’m candidly a little bit ashamed of the world he’s getting,” Croken said. “I think the viability of the planet is at stake here. If we don’t find a way to restore some kind of balance, nothing else will much matter at that point.”
“I think all the closed-minded denials and snarky dismissals of global warming do little to disguise a colossal failure of leadership on this,” he added.
Other key issues for Croken include jobs, education and health care.
Croken first joined the Scott County Board in January. His listed credentials include working on Capitol Hill; helping run political campaigns; and working with the Legal Services Corporation, a civil legal aid nonprofit established by Congress. He’s also a senior vice president of Davenport-based TAG Communications, an advertising agency, and previously worked as an executive with Genesis Health System.