The Republican bid for Iowa's U.S. Senate seat is wide open, with six hopefuls currently confirmed as candidates.
Iowa Representative Bruce Braley is the only declared Democratic candidate. Braley has served in the House of Representatives for eight years. Braley campaigned in Van Buren and Davis Counties Thursday, completing stops in all 99 counties during his Senate campaign.
Braley said he decided to run for the Senate seat to continue working for the middle class in Iowa and the United States. Therefore, the congressman said he supports legislation proposed by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, the incumbent whose seat Braley is trying to win, to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour.
However, Braley said that increase needs to be indexed for inflation to prevent a political battle.
"But we know that that provides more purchasing dollars in the hands of people who work at minimum wage jobs and it's not just teenagers, they make up only about 20% of the minimum wage workforce," said Congressman Braley. "So if 300,000 Iowans would get a pay raise with this legislation, that tells you how heavily dependant Iowa is on jobs that pay at that level."
Congressman Braley said he was glad to see the Farm Bill signed into law earlier this month, a legislation he said he always supported due to agriculture's vital role in Iowa's economy. He said he has also been working to figure out what is necessary to bring costs of propane down for Iowa farmers.
Braley also spoke in support of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on Iowa. While government "has to fix the problems", Braley said Iowa and the nation cannot go back to the time when insurance companies could deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, the cost of health care is finally going down for the first time in years.
"It's only rising at a rate of less than three percent over the last three years, that's a good thing," Congressman Braley said. "That shows that this law is making an impact on health care spending."
Braley's opponent for the U.S. Senate seat will be decided by a Republican primary in June. The congressman said he doesn't feel pressure to keep the seat in the Democrats' control, but he would like to continue the work done there by Senator Harkin.
"I feel pressure to keep this seat for Iowans who depended on Tom Harkin to be their voice and be their champion and have someone in the Senate who shares his values," Braley said.
The Republican primary will be held on June 3.