WATERLOO — U.S. Rep. Rod Blum R-1st District, was asked for the first time about his re-election plans and made his bid for a third term official during stops in Waterloo on Thursday afternoon.

Blum, a Dubuque businessman, said KXEL’s Jeff Stein was simply “the first person to ask” about his re-election plans, so he told the radio host he intended to run again. Blum had already turned in paperwork for his campaign’s first quarter fundraising, so his bid is not necessarily a surprise.

But he noted how politics had changed and elections used to begin in the election year.

“It’s only, what, five months into the session,” Blum told The Courier when asked about his election year plans, adding, “Last time, I had an opponent on, what, day two.”

He said his plans to run had nothing to do with the list of Democrats who have lined up to challenge him, though.

So far, Dubuque state Rep. Abby Finkenauer and Cedar Rapids aerospace engineer Courtney Rowe have made their bids official to seek the Democratic nomination in the June 2018 primary. Others, including state Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, are considering bids.

“I really don’t think about politics. Period,” Blum said. “I know some people don’t believe that, but I don’t sit down and worry about politics. I don’t worry about who my opponent is; I don’t worry about what they’re saying about me; I don’t read or follow whoever my opponents are. I’m just doing my job.”

Though he hadn’t planned to officially announce his intentions, Blum had a list of about five platform items he says he’ll run on in the 2018 campaign.

“Same thing I’ve always been running on: Drain the swamp. First and foremost,” Blum said.

He said he has a package of bills he plans to release later this year that he has either sponsored or co-sponsored that aim to “drain the swamp,” or reduce perks for federally elected officials that make them out of touch with average Americans.

His bills, many of which were introduced during the past session but did not get a vote, include enacting term limits, eliminating taxpayer-funded first-class air travel and luxury car leases, a lifetime ban on lobbying, tying congressional pay to that of the average American and cutting congressional pay if the budget isn’t balanced.

“I hope with the new president who wants to drain the swamp that one or more of those will be voted on; that’d be great,” Blum said.

He also said he would focus on the economy; preserving benefits for veterans, seniors and people with special needs; and reforming the welfare system.

“I hope I’m a voice for the taxpayers. The taxpayer is often forgotten about in discussions with Washington, D.C., whether it’s new programs or funding existing programs,” Blum said.

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Staff Writer

Political reporter at the Courier

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