SHELDON, Iowa | Kim Weaver, the O'Brien County Democratic Party chairwoman and a member of the state party Central Committee, announced Friday that she is running for the 2016 Iowa 4th congressional district seat.
Weaver, of Sheldon, said she is ready to take the step beyond aiding other campaigns to becoming a candidate herself. If nominated, she will run against U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, who is also running to be on the ballot in November. There are no other announced candidates.
"I was asked to run. I didn't just wake up one morning and say, 'Hey, I think I'll run for Congress.' I am not a traditional candidate. I am not somebody that groomed my life to be a candidate. But I am passionate about the people of Iowa, and passionate that I am willing to step forward," Weaver told the Journal.
Weaver said she would seek to improve the hourly minimum wage and protect the environment. She supports immigration policy reform that includes a path to citizenship for unauthorized people living in the U.S.
Weaver for 24 years has worked as a long-term care ombudsman for the Iowa Department of Aging, where she makes sure people in nursing homes and assisted living residences receive quality care.
"Standing up for people and real Iowans is what is important to me. I don't think Steve King has done that. I believe he has spent the last 12 years paying more attention to radical extremists than he has Iowans," Weaver said.
Weaver hasn't just worked in local politics. She was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic Party Convention and in January 2013 went to see the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Weaver made her announcement in what organizers say is the largest-ever indoor gathering of grassroots Democrats in North Iowa. More than 1,850 people got tickets for the Iowa Wing Ding event at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, drawn by the chance to see four of the five Democratic presidential candidates.
Weaver will travel the 4th District for events in the next few days.
King has won seven terms, first beginning in 2002. He defeated former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack in 2012 and military veteran Jim Mowrer in 2014.
Iowa's 4th congressional district covers Northwest and north central counties. The 4th District is heavily Republican, with 176,515 Republicans with active voter registrations, compared to the 119,020 for Democrats, according to Iowa Secretary of State office statistics.
Weaver acknowledged the quest to beat King will be difficult.
"Obviously, it is a challenge. But I think the people in the 4th District have begun to realize that (King) really doesn't represent Iowan values. He has become more outspoken in the last six years even," she said. "It is not going to be easy. But good things worth doing are not always easy. If it wasn't a challenge, there would be 20 people jumping up to do it."