On the campaign trail, U.S. Senate candidate Eddie Mauro hits many of the issues important to Democratic voters like health care, gun safety and climate change.
But beyond his stump speech, it is apparent Mauro has a deeper connection to these issues than political ideology.
The Des Moines native has a pre-existing health condition, has seen gun violence up-close and works with a non-profit organization in a country deeply affected by climate change.
He typically is described as a businessman and former teacher — Mauro currently works in property and casualty insurance — but he also has a decades-long history of community organizing and volunteerism.
“What I’m trying to convey to people, what sets me apart, is that I’ve been walking in the shoes of the people I want to represent nearly all my life,” said Mauro, in an interview with Starting Line. “I just don’t talk about making sure everyone has health care and a woman’s right to choose and providing for the most vulnerable people in our communities; I have been out fighting in those fights for a very long time.”
Driven By Faith
Early next year, Mauro plans to return to Tanzania, where he works with local planners, engineers and contractors to build water purification systems at schools. Mauro has worked with The Purify Project for several years, helping to install 40 water sanitation systems.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in helping people,” he said, noting his early involvement with Catholic charities.
For the last 5 years @eddiejmauro has devoted his time and energy in ensuring clean, safe drinking water for school children in Tanzania.
— Kendrew Panyanouvong (@kend0o) November 13, 2019
As an insurance executive, Mauro said his industry often talks about climate change and its impact on Americans’ property across the country. But in Africa, where he works on water purification, the crisis affects people not just during a major weather event, but everyday.
“I’m seeing firsthand, in Tanzania, the impacts of climate change,” Mauro said, of widespread droughts and pollution that have led people to flee their home countries. “Mass migration — we’re seeing it in North Africa, we’re seeing it in Central America, which is having people knocking on our doors. Those are the real impacts of climate change.”
Locally, Mauro was a founding member of A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy, known as AMOS, to build community relationships, train volunteers and implement initiatives important to local people.
One of the first initiatives Mauro worked on with AMOS was justice for immigrants, an issue coming to a head as the Trump Administration works to decrease immigration and end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program.
“Part of community organizing is to visit with the community about concerns that are out there,” he said. “One of the initial concerns that was brought to our attention was what was going on with the Latino community relative to immigrant rights. We were talking about things like driver’s licenses, but we also talked about wage theft and discrimination in housing and health care, and all those kinds of things that have been going on for almost three decades now. It’s not something very new for us.”
I have been fighting for these young people since the early 90's at the statehouse, in City Hall and DC. Please follow, retweet and ❤️ if you think we need comprehensive immigration reform now & will fight to #FlipTheSenate in a #BlueWave ⚾ #TeamMauro https://t.co/reDewG3ebF
— Eddie J. Mauro for U.S. Senate ⚾ (@eddiejmauro) November 12, 2019
Fighting for immigrant rights was “something near and dear to me for a long time,” Mauro said. “Part of my faith values and should be part of Iowa’s values.”
Leading By Example
If Mauro breaks out of the four-way Democratic primary, he will face Republican Sen. Joni Ernst next November.
Ernst, Mauro said, was “a senator for special interests and big industry and fat cats like the Koch brothers.”
“People feel the same way that my message is, that Joni Ernst has sold us out,” he said. “And they see that in health care, in education, in climate and environment initiatives — all of the things that she’s missed out on. She’s tied to power and money and the establishment.”
Like all candidates, Mauro has devoted time in his campaign to fundraising — he ended the third fundraising quarter with just over $1 million in cash-on-hand [much of which was his own money] — but he also has traveled to 75 counties to talk with voters.
“There was two things I demanded of my team,” Mauro said, “that I could be on the road constantly and that we wouldn’t get caught up in a D.C.-style campaign. If we did those two things then I’d be happy to stay involved in this endeavor 110%. And we’re doing that.”
Mauro also ran for public office in 2018 and 2016. In 2018, he finished in a distant second place to Cindy Axne, who went on to win the general election to represent Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.
The loss did not take away from Mauro’s drive to go to Washington, D.C., to legislate on behalf of Iowans.
“There’s still nobody in Washington that’s addressing the problems of the country with the sense of urgency and courage that this moment in history demands,” he said.
For Mauro, he sees an urgent need to provide health insurance for all Americans, tighten the laws on gun ownership and put Iowa “at the forefront of climate solutions.”
Though she drew a 57% approval rating in a February 2019 Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, Ernst has shown increased vulnerability as the end of the year draws closer. In October, Morning Consult’s quarterly Senator Approval Rankings showed Ernst’s net approval rating drop by 13% among Republican voters.
Once the Iowa caucuses come to a close early in February, the race to retake the Senate majority will kick in to high gear.
“We can really fight for the people of this state,” Mauro said. “We’ve led those fights for a long time.”
By Elizabeth Meyer