GOP primary candidates debate in Gaza | News

GAZA—The population of a small town in O’Brien County exploded Tuesday night as Gaza hosted a high-powered forum for the Iowa legislature.

The five-party forum included all candidates who could speak for the county in the Iowa House of Representatives and the Iowa Senate. The two-chamber districts include all of O’Brien and Osceola counties as well as areas further south and east.

Producers Cooperative, a corn seed facility in the city, hosted a crowd of nearly a hundred on May 3. Questions were submitted ahead of the two-hour debate, moderated by Sutherland’s Dani Rehder.

Rehder described the first question as “fun,” with the answers giving insight into each politician.

Which constitutional amendment is the most important?

“The First Amendment,” Tom Kuiper immediately replied. “It’s very important to be able to express yourself.”

Residing in rural Sibley, Kuiper is a paralegal by trade and a political commentator on the side. He takes an academic approach to expressing his Christian and conservative views, which are threatened by what he describes as an increasingly anti-freedom left.

Kuiper’s two opponents for House District 5, Zach Dieken and Rep. Dennis Bush, are split on what’s preeminent.






Zach Dieken speaks at a Republican debate in Gaza on Tuesday, May 3. Dieken is running for Iowa House District 5.



“The Second Amendment, to me personally, is the protector of all other amendments,” Dieken said.

Dieken centers his campaign on promoting an aggressive defense of what he described as an erosion of freedoms. He is an Iowa State Patrol Trooper living in rural southwest O’Brien County.

Bush, the district incumbent, said it was a close call but opted for the former.

“Our ability to worship freely, our ability to hold meetings like this, to have a voice in our government, to share our concerns is very important,” Bush said. “It’s essential for our country to keep moving forward.”

Valuing the contribution of others and seeking collaboration are essential for Bush. A veteran local official in his home county of Cherokee before running for Statehouse in 2020, he said the best governments are ones where everyone is involved.

The pair of Iowa 3 Senate candidates also went one-two.

“We’ve done a lot specifically for the First Amendment in the state of Iowa, but not enough,” Anthony LaBruna said.

He went on to say that social media regulation is necessary to preserve freedom of expression. As a former White House official working with the U.S. Commerce Department, LaBruna said he has the experience to get results for N’West Iowa. He recently moved from Storm Lake to Sanborn.







Gaza Debate: Lynn Evans

Lynn Evans speaks with participants of a Republican debate in Gaza on Tuesday, May 3. Evans is running for Iowa Senate District 3.



Lynn Evans, an educator from Aurelia, chose the latter.

“The reason the rest of our constitutional amendments remain intact is because we have the right to defend ourselves against a government that, well, you don’t have to go too far outside our own borders to see what’s going on,” Evans said.

Evans has made gun rights a central part of his platform. He also championed support for rural schools as a former district superintendent of Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn and Alta-Aurelia.

Do parents have the right to know what their children are being taught?

No one objected to parents having access to the curriculum and lesson plans, but the candidates split into two groups.

Three jumped at the chance to decry education in general.

“I won’t say the word, so heck yes,” Kuiper said.

Dieken said “secular humanism” has replaced Christian values, later adding that the current education system “doesn’t work”.

LaBruna called for more transparency in public and private institutions.

The other two rejected the premise.

“We passed a bill in the House that would do exactly what this question asked for,” Bush said.







Gaza Debate: Dennis Bush

Representative Dennis Bush speaks with a guest at a Republican debate in Gaza on Tuesday, May 3. Bush is running for re-election in District 5 of the Iowa House.



Bush went on to explain how he was part of the movement that fought for open enrollment in Iowa. He described the new issue as a diversion to funnel taxpayer money into private schools, which he said violates the separation of church and state.

“I might as well come out and say it. The governor is trying to use this election as a referendum for his voucher bill,” he said. “I am the only candidate for the House of Representatives who stands with our public schools. Painting all of our public schools with the same brush does a disservice.

Evans agreed, saying involving parents is already best practice. He also cited his decades in public education.

“Northwest Iowa has some of the best schools in the state, bar none,” Evans said. “When you look at the graduation rates in the state of Iowa, we’re one of the leaders in the country. Obviously we are doing some things right.

How far can abortion restrictions go in Iowa?

The U.S. Supreme Court appears set to completely overturn Roe v. Wade, the cornerstone of the country’s abortion rights, according to a leaked document news website Politico published 24 hours before the Gaza debate.

The official decision was previously expected to be made in early summer. If unchanged, the ruling would return the law regarding termination of pregnancy to the state level as it was in 1973 before Roe.

All of the candidates are staunchly anti-abortion, though Dieken has made it a campaign highlight.

“I woke up praising God this morning that we had the opportunity to live in an epic time when this ridiculous and misleading judicial opinion was sent to the trashcan where it belongs,” Dieken said. “States ignore Supreme Court opinions all the time. We forbid it. We criminalize it. We abolish it completely. Period.”







Gaza Debate: Anthony LaBruna

Anthony LaBruna answers a question during a Republican debate in Gaza on Tuesday, May 3. LaBruna is running for Iowa Senate District 3.



Evans was in a similar camp, using the same term Dieken used: “abortion abolition.”

LaBruna said he would like to pass a law similar to one recently enacted in Oklahoma that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, often around the six-week mark.

“We’re the party that cares about the kids,” LaBruna said.

Kuiper and Bush noted that any legislation still has to pass the scrutiny of the Iowa Supreme Court.

In a similar debate in Sibley on Sunday, May 1, Bush added that he favors exceptions to the abortion ban in cases of incest and rape, in addition to life-threatening pregnancies. .

“These would make a very strong case that there should be exceptions to this,” Bush said. “Otherwise, I’m pro-life from conception to the end of our natural lives.”

What qualifies you for the office you are looking for?

All the candidates looked at their CV.

LaBruna said his time working in the halls of federal and state power shows his “tested conservative record,” even amid dense bureaucracy and factional backsliding.

“If you can’t be effective, you can’t make a difference in your community. You have to know how to deal with people like that,” LaBruna said.

Evans, his opponent, said it took decades of community connection to earn votes.

“The quality of life here is incomparable. I’ve been showing up in northwest Iowa my whole life,” Evans said.

In the House race, Bush also drew on his experience on county and school boards and as the only incumbent lawmaker of the five.

“One unique thing that I bring is that I have a track record. If you want to know how I voted, check the newspaper in the House for the past two years, you’ll know exactly where I stand,” Bush said.







Gaza Debate: Tom Kuiper

Tom Kuiper speaks during a Republican debate in Gaza on Tuesday, May 3. Kuiper is running for Iowa House District 3.



Kuiper said his attention to detail and conviction are what set him apart.

“My main focus is that less government is better. We have to establish God in our personal lives and our public lives. And of course, we have to be good stewards,” Kuiper said.

As a law enforcement officer, Dieken said he puts everything, including his life, on the line to protect what he cares about. He had a similar closing statement in the Founding Fathers-related Sibley debate.

“What we don’t remember about them is that they were willing to sacrifice themselves for freedom. If you sympathized with the revolution, you sympathized against the British, your farm was taken, burned and you were killed. We don’t think like that anymore,” Dieken said.

“We want to be given freedom and freedom has a cost. Are we ready to fight for it or not?

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