Jim_GibbonsI had the opportunity to sit down yesterday at Smokey Row with Jim Gibbons who is one of the gazillion (okay, seven) Republicans running to knock off Congressman Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s Third Congressional District.  Jim when he wrestled for Iowa State University (I’ll forgive the fact that he didn’t wrestle for my beloved Hawkeyes) where he was a 3-time All-American and  NCCA Champion (in 1981).  He went on to become the head wrestling coach at Iowa State when he led the Cyclones to the 1987 National Championship.  Since leaving the coaching position at Iowa State, Jim has worked in the financial services industry for the last 20 years.  He was recently until jumping into this race a Vice President at Wells Fargo.

Jim Gibbons lead all congressional candidates in Iowa (including incumbents) in fundraising last quarter so he has a good war chest.  He also has captured the attention of the National Republican Congressional Committee.  He has former Speaker Dennis Hastert coming to Des Moines for a fundraiser in March.

I could have spent all morning, as a former wrestler, talking about wrestling, but alas, this isn’t a sports blog.  We discussed why he decided to run, what sets him apart from the other six Republicans running, the Stimulus package and current jobs bills, marriage amendment – both federal and here in Iowa (listen to what he thinks of our current options), his pro-life position, death penalty, immigration reform, the upcoming powwow that President Obama wants to have with Congressional Republican leadership on health care reform, his thoughts on health care reform, death panels, the Tea Party movement, the War on Terror, Iran, Iraq, No Child Left Behind, and the Patriot Act.

I forgot to ask him about earmarks so I’ll send his campaign manager an email and update later when I get an answer.  He had a 30 minutes to chat and I came away seeing a candidate who is focused, competitive, has a good grasp on federal and state issues, and who is energetic.  He is definitely, in my book, in the top tier of Republican candidates and I believe he has an excellent shot at defeating Boswell.

I hope you enjoy the interview.

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