The news coverage of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District race primarily focuses on U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Dubuque, and her presumptive Republican challenger, State Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion. Hinson, however, is running in a contested primary.

Thomas Hansen, 57, is a small businessman and cattle rancher who lives near Decorah County in Winneshiek County. He’s also the chairman of the Winneshiek County Republican Party and a supporter of President Donald Trump.

Hansen filed to run for Congress in May. Hansen was born in Long Island, N.Y., and grew up in Las Vegas, NV where he worked as an engineer and later moved to Iowa as a young man to marry his wife of 31 years, Jeanett. They have one adult daughter.

“Whether as an engineer out in Las Vegas, a small business owner, 30 years as Hansen Refrigeration, or cattle rancher, Rock Cedar Ranch, 25 years with Jeanett selling beef to local area restaurants and customers, I have worked with my hands and used the knowledge I have gained over the years to solve whatever problems have arisen for both my family and my customers and will continue to do so in Washington, D.C. if elected,” he states on his website.

Also his website, he points to two different groups with vastly different ideologies “vying for control of American and its citizens” as the reason why he is running for office.

On one side, there are progressives whom Hansen says believes that “government is our master.”

He says this group “despises the founding principles of this Nation, believes free-market capitalism is the root of the worlds problems and that America’s citizens are ignorant and cannot survive without the government constantly overseeing their lives.”

On the other group are those who believe government is our servant, Hansen says. “This group, of which I consider myself a member, believes America is an exceptional nation in the history of the world; that its citizens are good hearted and have shown an extraordinary ability to adapt and overcome any obstacle placed before them; and that free-market capitalism has and continues to be the best method of lifting people out of poverty and driving the innovation that benefits the world as a whole. We believe Liberty is freedom tempered by morality; Justice should be the ultimate goal of the law; and that Equality means applying the law equally to all not dividing our citizens into group and giving some special rights in attempt to achieve equality. We believe America has sometimes struggle.”

“History has shown us many times where these two paths lead and I am running for office because of my convictions to see that our Nation follows the latter path into the future and to prevent It from taking any more misguided footsteps down the former,” he added.

Hansen says he is pro-life and believes that is an issue where Republicans can create “a big tent” by showing how extreme Democrats are on abortion and by reaching out to minority voters. He also supports U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s penny plan for reducing the debt and offers a simplified tax plan. Hansen agrees with many of President Trump’s ideas on immigration, but also believes there should a way to offer illegal immigrants in the country already without the possibility of citizenship. He does support a pathway to citizenship for childhood arrivals.

Hansen, who has been without health insurance for 20 years, says he supports a free market approach to health care reform that includes price transparency, simplifying regulations and reducing administrative costs. He also favors the expansion and portability of health saving accounts; and people using health insurance for its intended purpose, that being protecting individuals from bankruptcy in the event of a major medical incident by providing low cost catastrophic policies.

Hansen also says, as a firearms owner and as a firearms dealer at gun shows, he supports the 2nd Amendment, but does not oppose background checks provided the government does not retain records. He also believes that state’s concealed carry laws should be reciprocal, agrees with stand your ground laws, and believes in training armed teachers in schools.

Hansen also has an unusual political history. His website does not mention it, but Caffeinated Thoughts learned Hansen ran in 2006 and 2008 as a Democrat in Iowa House District 16. He lost to former State Rep. Chuck Gipp, R-Decorah, in 2006. He came in last in a four-way Democratic primary in 2008.

When asked why he switched parties, Hansen told Caffeinated Thoughts that he was a Republican before that, but was turned off by President George W. Bush “breaking his tax promise.”

He registered as an independent, but decided to run against Gipp in 2006, “because I thought he had strayed from his Republican principles.” Hansen said running against Gipp, who at the time was the House Majority Leader, in a primary was pointless so he became a Democrat.

“Quickly realized Democrats had no interest in actually sticking up for the common man and were moving quickly away from the Ideals this Nation was founded upon. Wandered the political desert for a while until Rick Santelli got up on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and I found people that believed in the same principles as myself,” Hansen shared with Caffeinated Thoughts.

He told Caffeinated Thoughts that while he was a registered Democrat during the 2006 and 2008 cycles, he didn’t for Democratic candidates (with the exception of voting for himself).

He started the Northeast Iowa Tea Party and later, with members of his group, took over the Winneshiek County Republican Party that had dwindling participation.

He said he also served on the Republican Party of Iowa’s state platform committee to help transform it from a lengthy “a long winded newspaper, with constantly changing principles and planks” that, according to former Governor Terry Branstad, was often ignored to a concise document that is used to promote and pass legislative priorities.

“My principles have never changed. Life is a journey and the important thing is that you learn from your experiences and mistakes. It is the path both Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump and, ideologically, Winston Churchill traveled but something, like them, that I see as history that is only significant to the present in terms of knowing what does not work,” Hansen explained.

Hansen faces an uphill battle in the Republican primary. He has raised less than $2500 since filing compared to Hinson, who with greater name recognition and the support of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, has raised over $650,000.

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