Congressional hopeful, Iraq vet, touts power of effective government
Jim Mowrer's family relied on Social Security after farm accident claimed his father
July 18, 2013
If you've lived, really lived, the principles of American democracy, served your country in war, you understand the value of government, the power of compromise and consensus in creating reasonable, effective policy, says Jim Mowrer.
Mowrer, 27, a military veteran with farm roots in Boone, has announced his candidacy as a Democrat for the 4th Congressional District seat. In seeking to represent the vast sweep of western and central Iowa, Mowrer pledges to eschew labels and heated rhetoric in favor of a steady, results-oriented approach.
"I'm running for Congress because I have a record of service," Mowrer said in an interview with The Daily Times Herald and Jefferson Bee & Herald.
Born and raised on a farm in Boone County, southwest of Ogden, Mowrer moved his family back from Washington, D.C. to Boone in April so he could run full-time for Congress.
The district is currently represented by Kiron GOP Congressman Steve King who passed on a 2014 U.S. Senate race and is widely expected to seek re-election to the House in what is a heavily Republican district.
Mowrer sees his political pursuit as the natural progression of a young life already full of service.
"After 9/11, I felt compelled to serve my country, and that's something both of my grandfathers did in World War II," he said.
Mowrer joined the Iowa National Guard following high school. His unit, the 1-133 Infantry Battalion, served a 23-month deployment in the Iraq War. Mowrer served in active duty from October 2005 to July 2007.
Later, Mowrer worked in a civilian capacity at the Pentagon, as a special assistant to an Under Secretary of the Army.
"I saw first-hand the kind of damage that a broken Congress could do," Mowrer said. "Too many times, Congress was a hindrance, not a help, to progress."
Mowrer, who didn't list a party label on an initial press release, quickly described why he's a Democrat when asked in an interview.
When Mowrer was 7 years old, his father, David, died in a farming accident at age 43. A train collided with David Mowrer's tractor and grain wagon at a rural intersection with two railroad tracks. One train passed and obscured a train going the other direction, creating a blind spot, Jim Mowrer said.
Bottom line: the family lost a dad and provider.
"My mother raised my sister and me, and Social Security survivor benefits are the major thing that kept my family from falling so far down that we couldn't get back up," Mowrer said. "So I believe in the basic social-safety net."
Mowrer's mother, Susan, is semi-retired in Boone, doing work with the Salvation Army and a women's shelter.
While he voted for President Barack Obama and supports current high-profile policy positions of the Democratic Party, Mowrer said, party labels weren't an issue with fellow military personnel in Iraq.
"I'm not a big fan of labels," Mowrer said. "I think we're all Americans first, and we're Iowans first."
Iowans, Mowrer said, expect their elected officials to work with each other.
"Instead of pushing for solutions there are too many politicians in Washington - and Steve King is one of them - who are pushing soundbites just to please extreme parts of their party," Mowrer said. "And that doesn't help the people of Iowa's 4th District. Actions speak louder than words."
Mowrer said he would support the immigration-reform package that passed the U.S. Senate, 68-32, one that provides both stepped-up border security and a path to citizenship for millions of residents in the United States without papers. He cited a Congressional Budget Office report showing the legislation would boost the American economy and reduce the deficit.
"When was the last time a major piece of bipartisan legislation received that kind of support in the Senate, 68 votes?" Mowrer said. "I think that's telling. That's the kind of compromise that we need to get things done."
Mowrer criticized King for what Mowrer believes is the Republican's inability to work with other legislators.
Additionally, Mowrer differs with King on another key issue - health-care reform. King has worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.
"We can't change the game plan before we've even gotten on to the field," Mowrer said.
Mowrer said when Social Security first went into effect, that entitlement program received many of the same criticisms as the Affordable Care Act.
"Social Security, most Americans agree, is one of the greatest programs that our government has ever implemented," Mowrer said.
Mowrer supports raising the cap on taxable Social Security earnings above the current first $113,700 of income. That is an example of where members of Congress should come together for compromise.
"Steve King is never going to sit down at the table and talk about compromise," Mowrer said. "He's going to stand outside Congress, or he's going to go on TV, and he's just going to say things to get people in his base riled up, wound up and upset. That's not how we built this country."
Mowrer said he is pro-choice on abortion.
"I think this is an area that the government shouldn't be involved in," Mowrer said. "I think that it's a decision between a woman and her doctor and the family."
He would make an exception with his opposition to late-term abortions, and trusts physicians to counsel women about what point they shouldn't have an abortion.
"Doctors have provided guidance on this, and the Supreme Court has said that viability is the line, and we have trusted medical professionals' judgment on where that line of viability is," Mowrer said. "But I definitely do not support late-term abortion."
While serving in Iraq, Mowrer earned his college degree from the American Military University and later went on to earn a master's of public policy from George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va.
Mowrer and his wife, Chelsey, have two boys Carter, 4; and Jack, 2. His family attends the Presbyterian Church.
In the coming weeks, Mowrer plans to launch his campaign at a number of events throughout the 4th District.
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