By Tyler Schneider, May 23, 2018

First District Congressional Candidate George Ramsey (D-Marion) met with members of the Manchester community at the home of Jim and Sharie Kernan May 20 to discuss his campaign and take questions from voters.

Ramsey, a 31-year U.S. Army veteran, was the last of four Democratic candidates to enter a primary race that will determine who will face off against incumbent, Rep. Rod Blum. He will face current state representative Abby Finkenauer, businessman Thomas Heckroth and progressive Courtney Rowe for the nomination June 5.

“We want a stronger, brighter future for all Iowans, not just a few,” Ramsey told the group of about 20 voters. “The next representative has to be someone who, unlike Blum, realizes that they represent every person living within this district and not just the supporters of their party. I firmly believe that as a Republican, you should be able to walk in and cast a vote for a Democrat, and then walk out and feel good about doing that.”

“We (the candidates) are all going to have similar views on the issues. We talk about health care, we talk about what we can do to be able to improve not just the access to education for our kids, but to improve the quality of their experience, there, too.”

Ramsey, a Kansas City native who has resided in Iowa since 2012, stressed progressive values for Iowans during the meet-and-greet, emphasizing his key issues of education reform, health care, gun regulation and economic growth.

“When we wrote out this campaign, I did so after traveling around the district and listening to people talking about the issues that were important to them,” Ramsey said. “I understand the pulse of this community, and I’m going to continue to work as hard as I can to ensure that every voter has a voice. We really formed the entire infrastructure of this campaign based on that platform.”

First, he’ll need to defeat Finkenauer, who has collected the vast majority of endorsements and major donations of any candidate to this point, including that of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

A state representative since 2014, Finkenauer had reported campaign finances of $1.1 million, with $730,000 in cash-on-hand back on March 31 — a number which has likely grown exponentially during that time.

“I’m the strongest candidate in the field, but I’ve not raised the kind of money that Rep. Finkenauer has raised — or that the PACs that are supporting her, have raised,” Ramsey said. “But I do want to make it clear that we’ve done everything that we can to be right here with the people of this district, fourteen days away, and still be in the best position to win this race.”

“We’re going to report close to $125,000 raised when we do our final report here next week. Guess what? Every dollar of that has either come from either my own personal investment, or from my family, my friends and people throughout this district. That’s a whole lot of $20 contributions.”

Ramsey’s appearance in Manchester marks the tail end of a series of grassroot meet-and-greet appearances in the district for the veteran. He began the two-hour session standing in the living room of the Kernan home, sipping coffee, talking about his love for Kansas City barbecue and showing off a stylish pair of Captain America high-top socks before the time came to get serious about the issues at hand.

“We certainly don’t want to fall into the same problem that Kansas is in — that Illinois, our neighbor, has fallen into. And so, if we don’t want to be in the same position, we’ve gotta vote Democrats in so we can stave that off,” Ramsey warned, before adding that he sees the 2014 and 2016 elections for the district as missed opportunities for the left.

“These are elections the Democrats should’ve won, but the Democratic playbook is one that has not positioned us to be successful in winning places outside of places like Black Hawk County and Dubuque County.”

“Part of that is because candidates are simply not coming to places like Manchester and meeting our neighbors and making sure we’re earning the vote of not only the Democrats in Manchester, but the independents and also some of those Republican voters that we need to sway to win.”

A key issue in America, especially in recent months, has been the debate over gun control. Many voters in attendance asked Ramsey questions concerning firearm regulation as well as how Ramsey would look to improve school security and safety in that area.

“It’s OK to support the constitution and to be a supporter, certainly, of the Second Amendment, but to also be concerned with the things that are happening with gun violence in the country,” Ramsey replied. “I think of all the candidates in this race, I’ve had more experience with firearms than anyone else. Who better to take the fight on for gun control than a career soldier, one who has the personal courage to talk about the seriousness of the issue, who lives in the same district of the former president of the NRA?”

Ramsey also took a hard stance against the notion of arming educators, saying that teachers, “need more books, not guns,” before turning the floor over to his chief media contact, Carlos Grant. Grant, an educator in Cedar Rapids, spoke from his own experience on topics such as school funding and the possible pitfalls of installing security measures like metal detectors in schools.

Grant concluded his analysis by offering his take on Ramsey’s candidacy. “I support George because of his candor, honesty and accountability to the people,” Grant said.

Ramsey urged voters to get out and educate themselves on the issues and to continue to operate as a unified community — despite differences in opinion or lifestyle — heading into the primaries on June 5.