Chelgren Out, IC Doctor Emerges as Loebsack Challenger

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The Quad City Times’ Ed Tibbetts reported Saturday that a new challenger emerged at Scott County’s GOP convention to challenge Democrat Dave Loebsack for his 2nd congressional district seat: Chris Peters, an Iowa City cardiac surgeon affiliated with UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital in Waterloo. Peters has until March 18 to file signatures for primary ballot access.

Assuming that happens, it won’t be the first time the independent-minded politician has sought political office. In 2010, he ran as a Libertarian against Coralville state Sen. Bob Dvorsky, picking up 25 percent of the vote (PDF). In 2008, displeased with the policies of George W. Bush, Peters supported Barack Obama, later telling Iowa City blogger/reporter John Deeth: “We changed our party allegiance to Democrat. I caucused for Obama (my wife for Clinton), and both of us voted for Obama in the general election in 2008. Since then, we have felt that Obama is simply carrying on Bush’s policies, and that there is little of substance between the two parties.”

Peters’ emergence this year came after state Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, last week dropped his plans to challenge Loebsack. Chelgren made national headlines late last year after proposing that undocumented immigrants deported for felonies be executed if caught re-entering the United States. He likely wouldn’t have posed a serious threat to Loebsack (nor is Peters likely to); the congressman has won all of his U.S. House races relatively comfortably after he was first elected in a close election in 2006 against moderate Republican Congressman Jim Leach.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.