State Senator John Redwine has spent the last several days traveling the 32 counties that make up Iowa's 5th District after announcing on Tuesday his candidacy for Congress.
Running "unofficially" for several months, and had planned to announce his campaign Sept. 11. Things changed as terrorists struck New York and Washington, D.C.
While casting a shadow across the country, Redwine said strong leaders are still needed and the democratic process must continue - especially in the 5th District with no incumbent in next year's election.
"It's a war on terrorism, not a political topic. It's not a discussion or an argument," Redwine said in his first campaign stop in Storm Lake this week. "We must be united as Americans."
Last week was a "sobering reminder" of the jobs politicians do, he noted.
"Some disparage those who run for office, but what we have observed is just how honorable public service can be," he said. "Now is a time when we are all called to serve."
As he has traveled throughout western Iowa this week, Redwine has seen signs of "God Bless America" and "United We Stand."
"I'll see at least one of those signs in every town. Patriotism is alive and well," he said.
"People in western Iowa need someone to represent them," Redwine said. "Running for office is one of our freedoms we need to continue to assure us a strong national defense."
Redwine lives on a small farm north of Sioux City in rural Plymouth County. He and his wife, Barbara, have three sons.
As he runs for Congress, Redwine is drawing on his array of experience from being a family physician, a hospital administrator, a state senator, and a member of the Sioux City school board.
After the state legislature approved new congressional districts earlier this spring, the 5th District opened without an incumbent. That's when people approached Redwine about running he said.
"They asked if I was interested, and I decided to explore the possibilities," he said.
The timing for a run at Congress is good, he said, with their youngest son having graduated high school last spring.
He has served five years in the state senate, where he has been assistant majority leader and chairman of the human resources committee. In the state senate he was elected to a leadership position early on.
He was a family doctor for 14 years in Sioux City before becoming an administrator at St. Luke's. He worked full time up until this summer so he could concentrate on his campaign.
Redwine feels he can offer Iowans more based on his experience. "I don't consider myself a career politician," he said. "I believe strongly in a citizen legislature."
His background with starting a small medical practice will help, he feels, especially in areas such as Medicare reform and small business support.
"I have had the opportunity to run a small business as a family practitioner, and also serve in management for a large hospital which employs 1,700," he said.
Redwine thinks Iowa's current delegation has tried its best to work on Medicare issues, but noted it can be difficult to push it to the forefront, noting Iowa's only got five votes compared to 20 some in larger states.
However, he said Medicare reimbursement is an important issue for the state, especially rural hospitals.
"With my background in health care, it can help me help them," he said.
Redwine operates a small farm, and sees value-added to be in Iowa's future, from medical enterprises to genetically-modified crops.
He feels the United States needs to work more with other countries to ensure the safety of GMO crops, and he noted a need for the country to continue to open more export markets.
"I think they're more worried than they need to be, but we need to ensure them GMOs are safe," Redwine said.
While the district Redwine hopes to represent is large, he feels it is a macrocosm of his state senate seat. He currently represents Plymouth County, sections of rural Woodbury County and a section of Sioux City. He feels the 5th Congressional District is a similar mix of rural and urban.
"Balancing interests of all my constituents is a valuable skill I've learned," he said. "I'm confident I can represent the entire district.
"I live within sight of South Dakota where the entire state is a single congressional district," he said. "If they can do it, we can do it."
Others seeking the Republican nomination for the Fifth District seat include Council Bluffs business man Jeff Ballenger; Iowa House Speaker Brent Siegrist, Council Bluffs; and state senator Steve King. Democrat Paul Shomshor, a city council member of Council Bluffs, also plans on running.