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Former State Sen. Mark Chelgren called out Iowa House leadership during a candidate forum this week. Chelgren is seeking the GOP nomination in Iowa House District 26 against Austin Harris, who we wrote about here.

Chelgren lamented the fact the Iowa House failed — again — to approve Education Savings Accounts. And he called that a messaging problem within the Iowa House caucus.

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“This is where I really struggle, I really struggle in the House, that I have not seen that kind of leadership from Pat Grassley or the leadership team in the House,” Chelgren said. “For me in business, we always have a plan — a six-month plan, a one-year plan and a five-year plan. And we lay that out and we give a vision as the leadership to say this is what we’re trying to accomplish. The reason we do that is we want to get buy-in. We want to get feedback from our allies, we want to understand what’s important to them, but we also want to have everybody understand that they’re part of the solution.

“And for whatever reason, we’ll take the school choice bill for instance, for the Republicans at least, I think 32 Republicans voted for that bill in the Senate and one opposed it. But in the House, 38 supported it and I think 22 or 24 opposed it. So the percentages, the ratios are so far off that somehow the vision that the Governor asked for wasn’t portrayed or given to the caucus where they actually could have the same understanding. Now this is Republicans. Republicans in the Senate effectively support it at 97 percent and Republicans in the House support it at 60 percent. That’s a messaging issue. And I don’t know why it’s such a big challenge for them to get that process done.”

Chelgren said he has always told his children that it takes courage to stand up to your enemies but it takes integrity to stand up to your friends.

“And this is where I think the real challenge comes in which is we didn’t do the job we could’ve done,” Chelgren said. “Now, we did a lot of good things, but we could’ve done a lot more. I really do believe that we need to have someone who is willing to stand up to our allies and confront them when they’re not getting the job done because this is a service and we should be working hard.”

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