Gary Kroeger made it official last night: he is a candidate for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, set to face Monica Vernon, Ravi Patel and possibly Swati Dandekar for the Democratic nomination. He announced his campaign to a crowd of supporters in Cedar Falls last night.
Kroeger is looking to position himself as the most progressive option in the race. “I am an unapologetic, lifelong progressive and a proud lifelong Democrat,” the father of two sons said in a release. “Many recognize the need for a new kind of leader in Washington yet rely on the same pool and the same candidate profile, while expecting to get different results.” Kroeger has been traveling the district the last few months, meeting with county party organizations and local activists, where his campaign says he’s been well-received with the issues he’s talking about.
Both Vernon and Patel announced earlier in the year, and Kroeger will face a tough and crowded primary to get the chance to face off against freshman Republican Congressman Rod Blum. “As this primary moves forward it will become very clear that I am not a country club Democrat,” Kroeger said in staking out his turf in the race. “I am a middle-class, progressive Democrat, and I’m running to represent our shared progressive Iowa Values in Congress.” Interestingly, Ravi Patel sent out a release last night welcoming him to the race, saying, “I have had the opportunity to get to know Gary on the campaign trail over the last month and I look forward to a positive campaign based on our ideas for how we can unlock Iowa’s true potential.”
Kroeger’s biggest challenge will come in competing with his opponents’ fundraising abilities, and having enough cash himself to get his message out to the primary voters. Patel announced last week he raised over $525,000 for the first quarter, and Vernon reportedly pulled in over $300,000. “This primary isn’t about money – it’s about the direction of our party,” said Tavis Hall, Kroeger’s campaign manager, and pointed out how the best-financed candidates fared last time. “We will raise enough to be competitive throughout the process. In 2014 the #1 fundraiser and even the #2 fundraiser failed to earn the nomination of the party. Money can buy you a lot of things, but it can’t buy you votes.”
Kroeger works in advertising in Cedar Falls, where he returned to Iowa 12 years ago after a 20-year career in acting, writing and producing. That included a 3-year stint on Saturday Night Live in the 80’s, where he came up in an acting troupe that included Julia Louis Dreyfus. For more on Kroeger you can check out our short profile we did of him in our very first article the day we launched. His website is www.KroegerforCongress.com. DesMoinesDem also had some good analysis of his campaign at Bleeding Heartland yesterday.
by Pat Rynard