Bruce Braley

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Bruce Braley
Bruce Braley official 110th Congress photo portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded byJim Nussle
Personal details
BornBruce Lowell Braley
(1957-10-30) October 30, 1957 (age 56)
Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Carolyn Braley
Alma materIowa State University
University of Iowa
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Bruce Braley
Bruce Braley official 110th Congress photo portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded byJim Nussle
Personal details
BornBruce Lowell Braley
(1957-10-30) October 30, 1957 (age 56)
Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Carolyn Braley
Alma materIowa State University
University of Iowa

Bruce Lowell Braley (born October 30, 1957) is an American politician and attorney who has served as the U.S. Representative for Iowa's 1st congressional district since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district lies in northeastern Iowa and includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Marshalltown, and Dubuque. On February 7, 2013, Braley announced that he would be running for the Democratic nomination for the 2014 United States Senate election in Iowa.[1]

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Braley was born in Grinnell, Iowa, the son of Marcia L. (née Sherwood) and Byard C. Braley.[2] He has English, Irish, and German ancestry.[3] His family owned a farm in nearby Brooklyn, Iowa. Braley attended college at Iowa State University where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law. While in college, he worked in agribusiness and in highway maintenance. He was admitted to the bar and has worked as a trial lawyer in Waterloo since 1983. Braley specialized in representing workers who had been injured on the job or were terminated unfairly. As an attorney, Braley served as president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Braley won an open seat battle in the 1st district after eight-term Republican congressman Jim Nussle stepped down to make an unsuccessful run for Governor in 2006. The 1st district had been in Republican hands since 1979. However, eastern Iowa has swung heavily Democratic since the 1990s. The district has supported the Democratic candidate for president in every election since 1988. The district, which was numbered as the 2nd District for most of the period from Iowa's statehood until 2003, became even more Democratic when much of the Quad Cities area, including Davenport and Bettendorf was shifted into it from the old 1st District (now the 2nd).


On July 8, 2006, Braley was chosen to deliver the Democratic weekly radio address. He spoke on the issue of Social Security.[5]

In the 2006 midterm election, Braley defeated Republican opponent Mike Whalen, a Quad City businessman.[6]


Braley became the second member of Iowa's congressional delegation to issue an endorsement in the 2008 presidential race, announcing his support on December 5, 2007, for former North Carolina Senator John Edwards in a press conference in Waterloo. On April 30, 2008, Braley threw his support behind Senator Barack Obama following Edwards' withdrawal from the race.


In 2010 Braley defeated GOP challenger Ben Lange, an attorney out of Independence, by only about 4,000 votes out of more than 215,000 cast. Ultimately, a 4,300 vote margin in Braley's home county, Black Hawk County, allowed him to overcome coattails from Terry Branstad and Chuck Grassley and secure a third term.[7] Grassley carried every county in the district;[8] Branstad carried all but three.[9]


On April 3, 2012, Braley announced his reelection campaign in his hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa.[10] Due to redistricting, Braley lost heavily Democratic Davenport but picked up equally Democratic Cedar Rapids and several other northeastern Iowa counties.[11] Lange and Dubuque businessman Rod Blum announced their candidacy to run in a 1st District Republican primary to face Braley in a general election.[12][13]

According to the non-profit, nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Braley led all Iowa Congressional candidates in out-of-state contributions. He has received about 3.5 times the amount of donations from out-of-state contributions as he has from in-state.[14] During the course of the campaign, a Republican activist and Braley's political opponent both filed House ethics complaints against Braley.[15][16] The charges were found to be without merit.[17] Braley raised an approximate total of $2.46 million for his re-election campaign,[18] with nearly a third of this coming from lawyers and lobbyists.[19] The sectors following two and three behind the lawyers and lobbyists were labor groups, and health groups, raising approximately $223,000 and $157,000 respectively. Braley spent approximately $2.11 million of what he raised being spent during the course of the campaign.[18] Braley's single biggest contributor was the law firm of Williams Kherker, which donated $19,900 on its own to his campaign.[18]


The non-partisan, non-profit website labels Braley a "Populist-Leaning Liberal."[20] Based on his voting record in the 1st Session of the 112th Congress, Braley was given a rating of 21% (D) by the National Taxpayers Union.[21]

Braley, in a demonstration of bipartisanship, sat with Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent at President Obama's 2012 State of the Union address.[22] Afterwards he praised the address, saying: “I’m glad the President so strongly emphasized strengthening the middle class tonight. I was especially encouraged by his focus on economic fairness, creating jobs, and investing in education. The American middle class is being squeezed more than ever, yet Wall Street bankers and big corporations are making record profits.”[23]

A YouTube video of Braley coming out against SOPA and PIPA was highlighted in the Progressive blog Daily Kos January 2012, which mounted a campaign to "like" it.[24]

Climate change

Braley told the Des Moines Register in a December 23, 2008 article that Congress cannot wait to enact reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, saying "We have ignored this problem for far too long."[25]

On June 26, 2009, Braley voted to pass an emissions trading measure in order to limit greenhouse gas emissions and set new requirements for electric utilities.[26]


Braley voted to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[27]

Braley supports raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.[28]

Health care

On November 7, 2009, Braley voted for House passage of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which included a public health insurance option.[29]

On March 21, 2010, Braley voted for the final version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[30][31]


Braley has taken a pro-choice stance, having received 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood in 2008, 2010, and 2012, as well as 100% position ratings from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2007, and 2009 through 2012.[32] On May 4, 2011 Braley voted against HR 3, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which passed the House 251 to 175.[32] On October 13, 2011 he voted against HR 358, Amends Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to Prohibit Abortion Coverage.[32] This bill passed the House and was referred by the Senate to Committee. On May 31, 2012 Braley voted against HR 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2012.[32] This bill failed to pass the House.


Braley has received varied agricultural interest group ratings in his time in office. In 2007 he received a 90% rating from the National Association of Wheat Growers, as well as a 2007-08 91% rating from the American Farm Bureau Federation and a '07-08 100 Family Advocacy Score from the National Farmers Union.[32] His ratings were maintained for the most part in 2008 with an 86% from the National Association of Wheat Growers, and a 2009-2010 score of 100% from the National Farmers Union.[32] However he has recently fallen out of favor with the American Farm Bureau Federation, with his 2009-2010 rating being only 43% and his 2011 rating dropping a further ten points to 33%. On February 29, 2012, Braley voted against HR 1837 - Water Resources in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley[33] which has passed the House, and would require the Secretary of the Interior to reallocate water for irrigation purposes.[34] On August 2, 2012, he voted for HR 6233 - Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012[33] which has passed the house and would provide supplemental agricultural disaster financial assistance for the 2012 fiscal year.[35]

Tort reform

Braley has been a long time opponent of tort reform.[36]

Government shutdown

During the shutdown of the federal government in 2013, Braley defended keeping the House gym open for members and lamented the cutbacks to the gym's services, including cancellation of towel service. Braley noted that gym was one of the few places where Democrats and Republicans could build relationships.[37] Braley's comment was spoofed in a comedy sketch by Jimmy Kimmel.[38]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Since 2008, Braley has been a member of the House Armenian Caucus. In 2009, Braley founded his own House caucus, the Populist Caucus. The caucus, which he chairs, now has 27 members. According to the Washington Post, it "is devoted to economic issues of interest to the middle-class, from the promotion of fair trade to the creation of well-paying jobs."[39]

2014 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In February 2013, Braley announced that he would seek the Senate seat held by retiring Senator Tom Harkin.[40] Braley's entrance cleared the field of all potential Democratic challengers and he raised an impressive $2.6 million by the end of 2013.[41] By February 2014, Braley had campaigned in all 99 counties of Iowa.[42]


"Farmer from Iowa" comment[edit]

In March 2014, video footage was released from a January 2014 fundraising event of trial lawyers in Texas in which Braley commented that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley could become the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee if Democrats lose control of the Senate majority. In the video Braley criticized Grassley as "a farmer from Iowa, who never went to law school".[43][44][45] The comments drew fire from various political figures and news sources for disparaging the agricultural industry, which forms an important part of Iowa's economy and culture. The backlash from Iowa voter was also felt; Braley's poll numbers fell and 50% of Iowans felt that the comment indicated that Braley was "out-of-touch."[46]

Following the release of the video, Braley issued an apology to Grassley.[47] In response to the negative coverage generated by his comments,[48] Braley issued a press release which touted his farming background. The press release included a number of misspellings of common farming terms.[49] After the errors were pointed out, Braley's spokesman stated that he had "lost his fourth-grade spelling bee by mis-spelling 'journey'. I guess my old habits are hard to break."[48]

Joni Ernst chick ad[edit]

In June 2014, Braley released a 30-second ad spot attacking Republican opponent Joni Ernst. The ad claimed that despite the fact that Ernst was running as a fiscal conservative, when she “had the chance to do something in Iowa, we didn’t hear a peep.” The ad also claimed that Ernst never sponsored a bill to cut pork or reduce spending during her time in the Iowa state Senate. Footage of a baby chicken chirping was shown during the ad, comparing her to a chick.[50] News sources attacked Braley for the perceived sexist nature of the ad.

Brook Hougesen, spokeswoman for the NRSC, said "Bruce Braley has shown time and time again just how tone-deaf, elitist and offensive he is." University of Iowa political science professor Timothy Hagle noted the double standard of sexism between Republicans and Democrats, saying "Imagine if a GOP candidate had used a 'chick' in an ad against a female opponent."[51]

Ernst's spokesperson Gretchen Hamel released a link to three bills co-sponsored by Ernst.[52] The bills would have imposed a hiring freeze for the state government and amended the state constitution to restrict government spending and taxation.[53] Braley's campaign manager Sarah Benzing responded by defending the accusations made in the ad, claiming "That we still haven't heard a peep from state Sen. Ernst's campaign on the substance of our ad shows just how clearly her record does not live up to the image she's portraying on TV. The facts matter, and the truth is, state Sen. Ernst talks a lot about cutting pork, but her actions are something else entirely."[52]

Electoral history[edit]

YearPartyIncumbentStatusPartyCandidateVotes %
2012DemocraticBruce Braleyre-elected

DemocraticBruce Braley222,42256.9%
RepublicanBen Lange162,46541.6%
IndependentGregory Hughes4,7721.2%
IndependentGeorge Todd Krail II9310.2%
YearPartyIncumbentStatusPartyCandidateVotes %
2010DemocraticBruce Braleyre-elected

DemocraticBruce Braley104,42849.51%
RepublicanBen Lange100,21947.52%
LibertarianRob J. Petsche4,0871.94%
IndependentJason A. Faulkner2,0920.99%
YearPartyIncumbentStatusPartyCandidateVotes %
2008DemocraticBruce Braleyre-elected

DemocraticBruce Braley178,22964%
RepublicanDavid Hartsuch99,44735%
YearPartyIncumbentStatusPartyCandidateVotes %
2006RepublicanJim Nussleran for Iowa Governor

DemocraticBruce Braley113,72455%
RepublicanMike Whalen89,47143%


  1. ^ The Washington Post |url= missing title (help). 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "About Bruce Braley". Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  5. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  6. ^ Tibbetts, Ed (2006-11-07). "Braley win caps 2-year quest". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  7. ^ "Results by county in 2010 race". CNN. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  8. ^ "County Results - Election Center 2010". CNN. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  9. ^ "County Results - Election Center 2010". CNN. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  10. ^ "Congressman Braley announces bid for 4th term". Radio Iowa. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  11. ^ "Iowa redistricting plan draws praise". The Courier. 2011-04-07. 
  12. ^ "Dubuque Republican will seek 1st District nomination to challenge Braley". 2011-10-24. 
  13. ^ "Lange to officially announce another run for congress Monday". Des Moines Register. 2012-02-08. 
  14. ^ "Iowa: Congressional Races". 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  15. ^ "Republican activist files complaint over Braley deficit reduction workshop". Cedar Rapids Gazette. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2012-08-30. 
  16. ^ "Lange hits Braley with second ethics complaint". Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  17. ^ "Braley chief says complaint without merit". Dubuque Telegraph Herald. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  18. ^ a b c " - Bruce Braley". 
  19. ^ " - Bruce Braley - Campaign Finances". 
  20. ^ "Bruce Braley on the Issues". OnTheIssues. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  21. ^ "NTU Rates Congress". National Taxpayers Union. 
  22. ^ "Bipartisan Braley". Chicago Tribune. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  23. ^ "Iowa's congressional delegation reacts to the State of the Union address". Des Moines Register. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  24. ^ "Hey Iowans, Send Braley an "attaboy" on SOPA". Daily Kos. 2012-01-18. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  25. ^ Brasher, Philip (December 23, 2008). "Braley says Congress eager for carbon emission controls". Des Moines Register. 
  26. ^ "Roll Call Vote #477". June 26, 2009. 
  27. ^ "H.R. 1: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009". OpenCongress. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  28. ^ "MINIMUM WAGE: Braley Joins Calls For Increase". 9 January 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  29. ^ "Roll Call #887". November 7, 2009. 
  30. ^ "House Roll Call #165". March 21, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Rep. Bruce Braley will vote for health bill; says he’s secured key changes". DesMoines Register. 
  32. ^ a b c d e f "Vote Smart - Bruce Braley - Ratings and Endorsements". 
  33. ^ a b "Bruce Braley Agricultural Voting Record". 
  34. ^ "Hr 1837 - summary". 
  35. ^ " - HR 6233 Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012". 
  36. ^ Price, Dave (March 25, 2014). "Braley apologizes: Sen Grassley 'farmer from Iowa'". NBC News. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  37. ^ Joseph, Cameron (October 9, 2013). "Rep. Braley complains about shutdown's impact on House gym's towel service". The Hill. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  38. ^ Lynch, James (October 16, 2013). "Kimmel 'snaps' Braley's towel comment". WCF Courier. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Bruce Braley (D-Iowa)". Washington Post. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  40. ^
  41. ^ Sullivan, Sean (3 April 2014). "Bruce Braley’s bad week". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  42. ^ Petroski, William (20 February 2014). "Political Insider: Braley campaign hits 99-county mark". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  43. ^ Silverleib, Alan (March 25, 2014). "Braley dismisses Grassley's 'Iowa farmer' credentials in video clip". CNN. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  44. ^ Sullivan, Sean (April 3, 2014). "Bruce Braley's bad week". Washington Post. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Bruce Braley to rub shoulders with New York trial lawyers". Washington Examiner. April 3, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  46. ^ Wiser, Daniel. "Bruce Braley's Poll Numbers Fall Following Farmer Comments." Washington Free Beacon. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014. <>.
  47. ^ Wheaton, Sarah (March 25, 2014). "Representative Apologizes for Criticizing Iowa Senator". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  48. ^ a b "More Braley Blunders: Iowa Senate hopeful misspells terms while touting farm cred". Fox News. March 27, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  49. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer (March 27, 2014). "Farm terms misspelled in Braley's defense of his farming cred". Des Moines Register. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  50. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer. "'Chick' Slam Draws Criticism." The Des Moines Register. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014. <>.
  51. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer. "'Chick' Slam Draws Criticism." The Des Moines Register. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014. <>.
  52. ^ a b Paul Steinhauser (June 5, 2014). "With primary over, key Senate race turns nasty". Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  53. ^ Camia, Catalina. "Bruce Braley's 'chick' Ad Criticized as Sexist." USA Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014. <>.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim Nussle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Harkin
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Iowa
(Class 2)

Most recent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Gus Bilirakis
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Vern Buchanan