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GOP 2nd District primary expands to four
A Marion entrepreneur with ties to politically influential social conservatives is collecting signatures to enter the June Republican primary for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
Rob Gettemy, 44, attends Antioch Christian Church in Marion, as do several members of the Linn County Republican Executive Board. He and another member, Jim Mayhew of Vinton, launched a Christian t-shirt and ministry business in 2008 dubbed “1M4JC,” or “One Million For Jesus Christ.” He is an instructor at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at University of Iowa and serves on the board of directors for Aid to Women, a local anti-abortion pregnancy crisis center.
Gettemy revamped his Twitter account just days ago to reflect his new status as a candidate for U.S. Congress, and added a link to the Web site launched by his campaign. The site contains an official press release announcing his candidacy, although it is unclear if the text was forwarded to journalists or simply posted on the site. On Sunday, a meet and greet was held at a local park to continue gathering the signatures Gettemy needs to appear on the local ballot.
If Gettemy is able to garner the necessary number of signatures, he will join an already crowded primary. Marion resident Christopher Reed, Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje and Ottumwa ophthalmologist Mariannette Miller-Meeks have already stated their interest in the race, and recently held a debate at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids.
From a purely horse-race perspective, the entrance of Gettemy likely does the most harm to Reed. Not only does it pull the hometown base Reed hoped to energize, but it sends a definite signal that Reed, who had attempted to position himself as the only true social conservative in the race, was found to be lacking.
Due to Gettemy’s entrepreneurial and business background, it is also feasible that he could melt support that has been slowly building for Rathje, who has emerged as the predominant fiscal conservative.
Miller-Meeks, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the seat in 2008, is widely considered the heir apparent and the candidate to out-best in the upcoming primary. Many in eastern Iowa believe that her previous campaign was derailed thanks to an attack launched by Iowa Right to Life, then headed by Republican National Committeewoman Kim Lehman, which called Miller-Meeks a “great pretender” who was trying to pass herself off as being against abortion when she is not. Since ending her campaign, Miller-Meeks has put her professional career on hold to travel the district, speak out against health care reform and connect with Republicans.
During the past year, however, Gettemy has not necessarily been an unknown local political force. His attendance at Antioch Church places him in proximity of several key social conservatives — not the least among them being Linn County GOP Chairman Tim Palmer and Vice-Chairman Brent Schulte, a minister at Antioch, and Schulte’s wife, state Rep. Renee Schulte.
Politics being what they are in Linn County, however, such affiliations and perceived support may be a double-edged sword.
Although Linn County Republicans passed a loyalty resolution earlier this month demanding gubernatorial hopefuls promise to support the party’s eventual nominee, members of the local central committee to continue to grapple with one another on ideological grounds. For example, Tim Pugh, a man who has been the organizing force behind the local tea party movement, was recently removed from a spirited central committee meeting. (The removal takes place at roughly the one hour, 12 minute mark in the audio recording. The controversy involving the power of the chairman and rules of procedure begins at roughly the one hour, 10 minute mark.)
The Republican primary will be held on June 8, with the winner taking on incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack.