Tax manager Paul Shomshor acknowledges he has an uphill battle as a Democrat campaigning in the huge western Iowa 5th Congressional District where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 40 percent to 25 percent.
The makeup of the 32-county district means the 128,000 independent voters will be critical to Shomshor's hope of defeating Republican state legislator Steve King on Nov. 5.
To persuade voters he's their man, Shomshor has been focusing on issues such as job security, health care and Social Security.
Those are among the issues most important to constituents, Shomshor said, but he also is highlighting King's legislative record, which includes support for issues that Shomshor thinks may be too radical for Iowa constituents.
"I think the issues that he's worked on in the Legislature, including English as the official language, the God and Country Bill where we would teach the Bible in the public school system, and abortion limitations even in the case of rape or incest, those are extreme positions and those are not what western Iowans want to see their congressman in Washington, D.C., work on," Shomshor said.
King denies that the God and Country Bill would require teaching the Bible in public schools.
Shomshor, 35, a tax manager for ConAgra Foods Inc. and former Council Bluffs city councilman, said providing secure jobs for Iowans, ensuring quality health care and retaining the Social Security system for the future are issues he wants to work on for his district.
Shomshor said he would work to move Iowa's Medicare reimbursement rate closer to the national average. Currently Iowa and 33 states are below the national average. Iowa is ranked last in the level of reimbursement.
He opposes privatization of Social Security because he said it jeopardizes benefits for current retirees.
"I'm not willing to do that," Shomshor said.
He said King has advocated partial privatization.
Shomshor also said he opposes King's suggestions of abolishing the minimum wage.
"We have 100,000 Iowans working minimum wage jobs and I think it's inappropriate to pull that safety net out from under 100,000 Iowans," he said.
King said Shomshor's characterization of his stand on the issue is incorrect.
"I've never said that I wanted to eliminate the minimum wage and proposed it as policy," King said.
King has called for repeal of the federal income tax in favor of a national sales tax and Shomshor said that would shift a major tax burden to low income and middle class citizens.
"It would be difficult on seniors that live on fixed incomes and farmers that have to pay the tax on inputs to their crops like seed and fertilizer," he said.
He said the tax would also cut tourism in Iowa.
"I don't think that's the way to move the country," Shomshor said.
He said government incentives should be used to support ethanol and biodiesel production and to build wind energy generators.
Shomshor said he has visited all 32 counties in the district by going to town squares, hospitals, senior citizens centers and door-to-door.
"As voters begin to focus on the issues, I'm sure they don't want a national sales tax, I know they don't want to privatize Social Security and we need to have a minimum wage in this country," Shomshor said. "As voters begin to focus on these issues, they'll know I'm the best candidate to represent them."
On the Net: Paul Shomshor: http://www.shomshorforcongress.com/