(December 23, 1952 - )
Alumni, college professor and member of the United States House of Representatives 2007-2021.
Dave Loebsack was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa. Growing up in poverty and raised by a single parent, his mother, Delores Fletcher, David overcame many challenges with help from friends, teachers, and mentors. When David was in fourth grade, his mother could no longer take care of him and his three siblings, so they moved in with his grandmother.
Loebsack attended East High School and graduated at the age of 17 in 1970. He attended Iowa State University from 1970 to 1974, changing majors numerous times from Meteorology to Education to Business, before eventually graduating with a BS in Political Science.
Reflecting on his early years at Iowa State, Loebsack stated that coming from a single-parent, poverty-stricken background, ”Iowa State provided some of the first stability and predictability in my life - I experienced structure and regularity in my meals with steak on Sundays.”
Loebsack went on to get a Masters in Political Science in 1976 from ISU, as well as a PhD from the University of California, Davis, in 1985. His dissertation entitled Public Policy Outputs and Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa influenced his focus when he moved back to Iowa to accept a position as Professor of Political Science at Cornell College, a small liberal arts college in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
How does one go from an undecided undergraduate to three degrees in Political Science, a career as a college professor and department chair, and then as a member of Congress? According to Loebsack: “It was a few outstanding undergraduate and graduate school Professors who inspired and shaped my future -- ‘thank yous’ go out to Drs. Victor Olorunsola, Stephen Schmidt, Joel Moses, and Jim Newcomer in Political Science, and Dr. Wayne Osborn from the History Department.”
At Cornell, Dr. Loebsack taught courses for 24 years, primarily in International Relations with one of the highlights being a trip to Brazil with students. He was also active in local, state and national politics. In 1998, he took a leave of absence to manage Dave Osterberg’s unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent, Senator Charles Grassley. In 2000, Loebsack supported Senator Bill Bradley’s unsuccessful run for the Presidency as a local organizer. A combination of factors - personal involvement in politics; a sense that it was time for change in Congress; and strong urgency in holding the Bush Administration accountable for the war in Iraq and other policy missteps - led to Loebsack’s deciding to run for Congress.
In 2006, candidate Loebsack defeated 15-term incumbent Congressman Jim Leach in one of the biggest upsets of that election cycle. Nominated by a special convention, Loebsack ran in the 2nd Congressional District, a district that had been trending Democratic (a Republican Presidential candidate had not carried it since 1984). The district was regarded by voter registrations as the most Democratic district in the state. The district encompassed much of Eastern and Southern Iowa. Loebsack won largely by running up an 8,395 vote margin in Johnson County, home to Iowa City.
He was easily re-elected in 2008, taking 57 percent of the vote over Marianette Miller-Meeks, a doctor from Ottumwa and former President of the Iowa Medical Society. He faced Miller-Meeks again in 2010 and had a more difficult time. He prevailed with 51 percent of the vote, largely by running up a 13,900 vote margin in Johnson County. After re-districting in 2011, Loebsack moved from Mt. Vernon to Iowa City in the newly reconfigured Second District of Iowa. The redrawn district, no less Democratic than its predecessor, now included Davenport. Loebsack defeated Republican John Archer (42.5%) and Independent Alan Aversa (2.2%). In 2014, Loebsack beat Miller-Meeks again by a 52.5%-47.5% margin, leaving him as Iowa’s only Democratic Congressman. Finally, as Iowa went for Republican Donald Trump and re-elected Republican Charles Grassley by a landslide, Loebsack again survived by defeating Christopher Peters by a 54% to 46% margin.
In Congress, Loebsack’s priorities are a direct result of his ability to overcome hardships early in life. He has dedicated his political life to helping people find opportunity and hope. Issues he has emphasized include job creation and training, growing the middle class by ensuring children receive a first-class education, ensuring higher education is available to those who want to pursue it, ensuring the military have the equipment and training they need to complete their missions, and making sure military families and veterans have the support they deserve. Loebsack received the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Eagle Award in 2011 from the Enlisted Association of the National Guard.
As a Congressman, Loebsack has served on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the House Armed Services Committee. In 2015, he began serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over a wide range of issues, including energy policy; health care policy; trade policy; telecommunications and the internet; environment and air quality; and consumer affairs and protection. Congressman Loebsack sponsors bills primarily in these issue areas: Education (38%); Health (24%); Armed Forces and National Security (12%); and Labor and Employment (7%). He was the primary sponsor of two bills that were enacted: HR 4607 (111th Congress): Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act of 2010; and HR 6587 (110th Congress): Midwestern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2008.
Dave and his wife, Terry, a retired second grade teacher, have four gown children and three grandchildren and reside in Iowa City. In 2020 Congressman Loebsack announced he would not seek re-election, he continues to serve as a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Cornell College.
“Congressman David Loebsack Biography,” accessed May 1, 2018, https://loebsack.house.gov/biography.
“Biography for David Loebsack,” accessed May 1, 2018 through the “Bio” tab, https://votesmart.org.
Murphy, Dave (April 12, 2019). "Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack to retire in 2020". The Quad-City Times.
David Loebsack, Personal Interview, Des Moines, Iowa, May 1, 2018.
David Loebsack, Email response to author’s questions, May 9, 2018.
Professor David Osterberg, Telephone interview, May 7, 2018.