Who am I?

I’m Dave O’Brien, a lifelong progressive Democrat, running for Congress in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. I’m an attorney in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I live with my wife and our four children.

I have never held public office before, but I have had the opportunity to help elect other progressive Democrats over the years. In 1992 Bill Clinton asked me to run the Clinton/Gore campaign for the State of Iowa. After the election my family and I moved to Washington, D.C. I went to work for Secretary Robert Reich at the Department of Labor. In this position I worked to implement and enforce progressive labor policies that protected American workers and grew our economy.

Once our oldest daughter reached school age, we decided to return to Iowa. Since then our family has grown, and we have had the privilege to welcome several foster children into our home over the years.

I’ve helped elect an outstanding member of Congress, Bruce Braley, who I have known since Law School. And in 2008 I was on the Iowa steering committee for Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign.

Today, my law practice in Cedar Rapids focuses on fighting for those who have had their civil rights violated. I am proud of what I do for a living and look forward to the opportunity be an advocate for the entire First District as a member of Congress.

Why am I running?

I’m running for Congress because I know that if we continue business as usual, my generation will be the first to leave behind a country that’s weaker, instead of stronger. Without a change, we’ll leave behind a shrinking middle class, a climate that is still in crisis, and an economy that caters to the wealthiest one-percent and large corporations.

I want to be able to tell my children that I did something to change this. We need to elect candidates who will be strong advocates for the progressive values we share. I believe my background, especially on federal issues, gives me a skill set that can help bring about change in Congress.

My Goals

Since I announced my candidacy, I’ve stated that my focus as a member of Congress will be on the following three goals: Reinvigorating the middle class, taking action on climate change, and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure.

Reinvigorating the middle class:
Our economic recovery has primarily benefited those at the top, instead of supporting the middle class. I will make reinvigorating the middle class in America a top priority. To do this, we should look to how the middle class was first created. Teddy Roosevelt is on Mount Rushmore because he broke up the large trusts and required business owners to sit at the table to bargain collectively with their workers. Collective bargaining was the key to the creation of the middle class in this country. No individual worker has much leverage, but all workers joined together have the clout to argue for a larger share of the wealth their work helps to create. I will always support expanding and protecting collective bargaining rights. Additionally, I support raising the minimum wage and other economic policies that allow Americans to get ahead and have greater economic opportunity.

Taking action on climate change:
I am committed to leaving behind a sustainable planet. Climate change is real and it’s man-made. To begin addressing this we must take action to reduce carbon pollution and transition to cleaner sources of energy. I have endorsed a plan by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby which places a fee on fossil fuels and pays the fee back as a dividend to the American people. This fee and dividend program is revenue neutral, but will put powerful market forces in place to transition to clean renewable sources of energy. Additionally, the plan removes the billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies to big oil.

Modernizing infrastructure:
Iowa’s infrastructure is crumbling, with some of the worst bridges in the nation, the lack of investment in our infrastructure will continue to impact the ability of Iowa cities and towns to connect with the rest of the state and the rest of the nation. We must modernize our infrastructure to address this problem. With a large rural population in Iowa, we must also expand high-speed broadband to connect these Iowans with the rest of the world.

My DFA Values

I share DFA’s values of community, security, and liberty.

My entire approach to this campaign has been to build stronger communities across this district by supporting education and creating greater economic opportunities - especially for those in the middle class and below. In my personal life, my wife and I have been blessed to be a part of our community by serving as foster parents for several at-risk children, two of which we welcomed into our family as our adoptive children. I believe we all share a duty to our communities and that working together we can create a better and brighter future for all.

I have also been outspoken during this campaign about the need keep America safe and secure by being selective about our involvement abroad. I was proud to speak out against unilateral American involvement in Syria and as a member of Congress I would be judicious about spending American resources on conflicts abroad. Ultimately, our greatest security comes from keeping our economy growing and working for everyone, not just those at the top.

Respecting and protecting the liberty and rights of Americans has also been a focus of my campaign. I oppose the data mining and data collection practices that the NSA has implemented and believe we must be careful, focused, and limited by reasonable cause when it comes to monitoring the activities of American citizens. We must also ensure that corporations are not engaging in surveillance practices. I have also embodied this value in my personal life. As an attorney, many of my cases are focused on fighting for Iowans who have had their constitutional rights violated - I’m proud to stand up for liberty and justice for all Americans.

My Campaign is People Powered!

The grassroots are essential to any successful campaign. Since announcing my candidacy I’ve traveled across the district to meet with activists and recruit supporters. Specifically, I have contacted progressive leaders across the district, supported progressive candidates for local office, and will continue to engage this group during the critical months ahead.

I have also made it a priority to engage activists with campaign events. Most recently, we reached out to progressives in the district to invite them to a press conference I held in front of Wal-Mart to call for an increased minimum wage, greater collective bargaining power, and increased enforcement of federal labor laws.

Voice support


  • Katie Wilson, NV
  • Anne Bottaro
  • Natalie Keane
  • Patrick Bottaro
  • Kirk Ballard
  • Tim Bottaro, IA
  • Kristen Ballard
  • Tim Bottaro, IA

About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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