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CEDAR RAPIDS — Running for a third term in the U.S. House feels just like his first campaign, an upbeat and defiant Rep. Rod Blum told Linn County Republicans Saturday.

Five years ago, running for an open seat in the 20-county Northeast Iowa 1st District, “we were under assault, under attack, the underdog and all that. And we are again,” Blum said.

Media reports make it seem like “I’m the worst person on the face of the planet,” said Blum.

He won that 2014 race and then defied the political establishment that told him voting against incumbent Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner “sealed my death warrant.” Nonetheless, Blum was re-elected, outperforming both Donald Trump and Sen. Charles Grassley.

“I’m still there,’ he said. “Boehner is gone.”

Blum thinks that’s because he’s done what he promised to do. He’s introduced legislation not to pay for first-class air travel and luxury rental cars for members of Congress.

He’s trying to put a lifetime ban on former members of Congress becoming lobbyists.

He also wants to cut the pay of members of Congress until the budget is balanced, make public the names of those who have used congressional funds to pay for sexual harassment settlements and enact a constitutional amendment to limit how long a person can serve in Congress.

But you wouldn’t know that from media coverage of him, the Dubuque businessman said. He said coverage of him is nearly as overwhelmingly negative as the coverage of President Trump.

It’s so bad, Blum said, he had to pay for advertisements in newspapers, including The Courier, to boast he returned more than $275,000 of tax money to the Treasury because he underspent his office budget by 20 percent.

The media’s “latest craze” is that he didn’t report an investment in a digital reputation management company. Blum said investments of less than $1,000 do not have to be disclosed, but he later amended his ethics form to note it.

“What a beautiful assassination attempt,” he called stories about his involvement in Tin Moon, a Dubuque firm that claims it can bury derogatory information about a business in online search results.

“I don’t work for them. I don’t run it,” he said about the company.

Tin Moon’s website continues to show a photo of Blum in its “About Us” section, identifying him as the “majority shareholder” and promoting his “marketing expertise.”

He told Republicans not to be discouraged by Democrats “aided and abetted” by the media.

Four Democrats have announced plans to challenge Blum this year.


Statehouse reporter for The Courier

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