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WATERLOO — Eddie Mauro is hoping to unseat Sen. Joni Ernst by focusing on health care, the earned income tax credit and other issues important to Iowans.

Mauro, a 56-year-old Des Moines businessman and Democrat, came to Waterloo last week. He announced his campaign May 20.

Mauro is one of two Democrats running against Ernst, who is up for re-election in 2020. The other is Kimberly Graham, a Des Moines lawyer.

In Waterloo, Mauro participated in a Rally to Restore Reproductive Rights.

“There are a lot of things that are important to me,” Mauro said. “We need someone who can go out and fight on a lot of fronts and just not pick one.”

Mauro criticized the federal tax cuts of 2017.

“I’m very interested in an earned income tax credit for hard-working Iowans,” Mauro said. “... I’m a fan. It puts a $1,000 in those people’s pocket a month. That’s meaningful.”

Health care is another priority, a point driven home by Mauro’s own pre-existing condition: a spontaneous collapsed lung.

“I had one about six to seven weeks ago. Everyone should have the care that I got,” he said.

His campaign had a rocky start. At an early stop in Carroll, statements he made about Ernst’s military experience were perceived as being anti-military.

“Joni Ernst served our country in the National Guard. I have great respect for that. I honor that,” Mauro said. “My point was, my point still remains, that public service is a little bit different. It requires a different kind of courage, a different kind of commitment, a different kind of drive. Our friends across the aisle are going to take anything they want, they’re going to try to mislead and con and trick people by using what I had to say to drum up interest on their side.”

Mauro thinks the American people are getting sick of those kind of divisive tactics.

“To insinuate in any way that I don’t like the military or I’m disrespecting the military is misleading, and people should be tired of that,” Mauro said. “I will say (Ernst) lacks the same kind of courage she might’ve showed in the military; she’s lacking that kind of courage in the way she can’t stand up to special interests and big industry.”

Mauro wants to see Iowa represented differently in the U.S. Senate, “representation that actually fights for the people of Iowa, not for special interest, and not for big industry and not the Koch brothers,” Mauro said.

Mauro has made runs for the U.S. and Iowa House of Representatives, but hasn’t won a primary nomination. In 2018 he lost to Rep. Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. But he notes many losing candidates go on to do big things.

“I’ve been in the fire. I’ve had to go up and talk to people, hear from people on the streets, go do forums and debates,” Mauro said.

Mauro has lived in Iowa all of his life and spent a long time in Carroll. He was a teacher and coach before going into the insurance business.

“I run a business today that touches all 99 counties,” Mauro said. “I’m doing something in almost every town in this state, working with small business owners and helping them with insurance.”

Mauro wants to use that experience in Washington, D.C.

“I’m a lifelong Iowan I want to go fight for the people that I live with and represent them,” Mauro said.

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