Secretary of State Schultz running for Congress

COUNCIL BLUFFS – Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz said Thursday he will run for U.S. Rep. Tom Latham’s House seat in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

Schultz announced he was running in Council Bluffs, where he used to serve on the City Council.

Schultz said he thinks that Washington is broken? and that the Republican-controlled House is the only thing keeping the country moving in the right direction.

“I look at Washington D.C., and what’s going on in Washington, and I’m really nervous for our country,” Schultz said. “The House of Representatives is the only thing that’s keeping the dam from breaking.”

During his campaign for secretary of state in 2010, Schultz repeatedly called for the state to require voters to show identification at the polls and for more attention toward voter fraud, although even those who agree with him acknowledge the state has historically run clean elections.

Since his election, he has kept his attention on those issues and has come under scrutiny over his decision to pay the Iowa Division of Criminal investigation up to $280,000 over two years to investigate voter fraud. The money came from federal funding as part of the Help America Vote Act, which primarily funds education about voting procedures and other efforts to promote voting.

Schultz said if elected to the House, he would work to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, cut spending across the board and pass a Constitutional amendment to limit service in Congress to 12 years.

“We’ve seen generations of ideas squashed by politicians sitting in Washington too long,” he said.

Schultz is expected to be a formidable candidate for the 3rd district seat, which Latham unexpectedly decided to vacate at the end of his 10th term. The district includes Des Moines, Council Bluffs and largely rural areas of southern and western Iowa.

Many had expected Latham, a Republican, to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. But Latham declined to run for the Senate, and then he announced last month he would retire from the House.

Schultz said he decided to run after Latham’s announcement because of the problems he sees in Congress.

The seat is viewed as competitive. In December, Republicans held a narrow registration edge in the district, which had about 164,000 Republicans, 157,000 Democrats and 160,000 independents. President Barack Obama carried the district by 4 percentage points in winning the state last year.

State Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan criticized Schultz because he believes Schultz’s voter fraud investigations were unnecessary.

“Matt Schultz is a tea party darling who has wasted tens of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars during his time as secretary of state and has little to show for it,” Brennan said.

Brent Siegrist, a former Republican lawmaker from Council Bluffs who served as state House speaker, said Schultz should have a good chance to win.

“I assume he would have some fundraising opportunities statewide. He’s a tireless campaigner,” Siegrist said. “It’s a very winnable Republican seat, however it’s not like (Republican U.S. Rep.) Steve King’s district, which really leans right.”

Last week, Republican David Young, a former aide to Republican Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, abandoned a Senate campaign to run for Latham’s seat. Democratic former state Sen. Staci Appel, of Ackworth, announced her candidacy last year.