Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sam Brownback: A Republican to watch in Iowa

Poll-topping John McCain and Rudy Giuliani should eye closely the Iowa movements of their lower-profile colleague in the U.S. Senate, Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Brownback is true believer social conservative, and a Christian who expands his scope of issues beyond abortion and homosexuality to matters of poverty, forced prostitution in foreign nations and recidivism in prisons.

Iowa evangelicals looking for a new, exciting voice, one with a Midwestern accent and fireplace-in-the-family-room personality, could opt for Brownback over the flashier former New York mayor and war hero McCain.

And don't back-burner Brownback when it comes to getting PR either. His decision to spend a night in a prison in Louisiana (on a fact-finding visit) to understand recidivism drew some attention around here -- and conservatives at Rotary Clubs and in Iowa churches are drawn to prison issues. They believe faith-based intiatives can turn lives around and what better place to showcase this than in prisons.

If Brownback is smart -- and there's every reason to believe he is -- he comes to Iowa and spends some nights in our max prisons in Anamosa and Fort Madison, ancient pre-Civil War structures. He'll garner media attention and attact interest from the Christian right which is suspicious of McCain's bona fides, and uncomfortable with Giulani's comfort with gays.

At the racetrack -- someplace one would never find Brownback -- wise bettors always try to get a "good price" on a horse, one you think may be 3 to 1 but carries odds of 12 to 1 because other folks don't see what you do. Sam Brownback fits perfectly into this framework, with apologies for the anology.

Here is the basic bio on Brownback
Born in Garnett, Kans., September 12, 1956; grew up on his family’s farm near Parker, Kans., and graduated from Prairie View High School, Linn County, Kans.; graduated from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kans., in 1979; received law degree from University of Kansas, Lawrence, in 1982; administrator, broadcaster, teacher, attorney and author; Kansas Secretary of Agriculture 1986-1993; White House Fellow detailed to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative 1990-1991; elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Fourth Congress and began serving January 3, 1995; not a candidate for reelection to the United States House of Representatives in 1996, but was elected to the United States Senate in a special election on November 5, 1996, to the unexpired portion of the term ending January 3, 1999, left vacant by the resignation of Robert Dole; resigned from the House of Representatives on November 27, 1996, retroactive to November 7, 1996, when his Senate service began; reelected in 1998 and in 2004 for the term ending January 3, 2011.

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