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Republicans Thomson, Clark vie in Tuesday primary to run against Prichard

By James Grob,

Republicans Charley Thomson from Charles City and Craig Clark of Rockford will compete for votes in Tuesday’s primary election to see which one will square off against Democrat Todd Prichard in the Iowa House District 52 general election in November.

The district consists of Floyd, Chickasaw and the eastern third of Cerro Gordo counties. Currently the Iowa House Minority Leader, Prichard was unopposed in the 2018 election, and is in his fourth term since winning a special election for the seat in 2013.

Republicans Thomson, Clark vie in Tuesday primary to run against Prichard
Craig Clark (left) and Charley Thomson are vying for the nomination in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the chance to face Democrat Todd Prichard to represent Iowa House District 52 in the general election this November. Submitted photos

Although he said he’s a lifelong Republican, Clark ran as an independent in that 2013 special election for the seat, because he had missed the deadline to file as a Republican. He had previously run in the 2012 GOP primary for the chance to unseat incumbent Brian Quirk, D-New Hampton.

Quirk was ultimately re-elected, then resigned to take a job as general manager of New Hampton Municipal Light Plant, leaving the seat vacant.

As a store planner for Walmart, Clark builds and remodels Walmart stores. He said he has been in retail for most of his life and has a very strong customer service background.

“I’ve learned to listen to the needs of the associates as well as to the needs of the customers,” Clark said. “I have to factor in how I can get the job done without messing up the people’s lives, which is kind of a key thing for a politician.”

Clark, who grew up in South Carolina, earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and economics from Iowa State University and his law degree from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. He married an Iowa native who brought him back to the area, where he has lived for more than 25 years.

He currently resides in Rockford and has two children enrolled in the RRMR school district.

“I was thoroughly impressed with how fast the teachers pivoted in online learning in the RRMR school district when COVID-19 hit,” Clark said. “I don’t think we give teachers credit on how professional they really are.”

Thomson is a former Central Committee chairman of the Republican Party of Floyd County and served as an intern to Sen. Chuck Grassley in 1981. He graduated from Charles City High School in 1978, went to college at the University of Michigan and earned his law degree at the University of Iowa.

He practiced law in Chicago until 2008, when he returned to Charles City to be closer to family.

“I’ve always preferred the quality of life we have in Charles City,” Thomson said. “I still travel frequently to Chicago. I have a small apartment there, but my residence is in Charles City.”

Clark, 52, said political representatives in Iowa could use some old-fashioned Iowa values.

“We need decency from our politicians,” Clark said. “You know what’s right, you know what’s wrong, so do what’s right.”

Clark, a Rockford Township Trustee, said he believes in a conservative approach to governing, but that doesn’t mean he would blindly follow the Republican Party line.

“You have to do what’s right by the people,” he said. “I have conservative values, but I’m not in lockstep with the party. I may agree with the party most of the time, but I’m not going to vote the party line just because they want me to. My job will be to represent the people.”

Clark said that he would make sure that the decisions made in Des Moines will improve the economic lives of people in the district and give them the services that they need. He hopes to be a coalition builder with other representatives from this region.

“I’m middle class, and no different from anyone else in this area,” Clark said. “With my management skills and education background, I can go down to Des Moines and tackle the issues.”

Thomson has worked for DoALL Co., based in the Chicago area, for the last 20 years. The company manufactures machine tools and distributes industrial supplies. He is currently assistant general counsel and national credit manager and runs the Charles City office for DoALL, which provides accounts receivable and operator support for the company.

“I want to do everything I can to enhance and nurture the quality of life in small-town and rural Iowa,” Thomson said. “Our businesses, particularly our small businesses, need encouragement from Des Moines, rather than more regulation and taxes.”

Thomson said he would stress compromise and consensus over concepts like total victory and capitulation.

“I believe our republic cannot continue with the level of animosity between parties and ideologies that has emerged in the last roughly 20 years,” he said. “Although Washington (and Illinois) are now notorious for every vote on every issue reflecting a partisan divide, this habit is emerging in Des Moines as well. It’s a terrible, dangerous habit.”

Thomson lists rural and small town development and state banking reform as priorities.

“I’m also going to keep asking the question, to anyone who will listen, ‘Why on earth does the IEDA continue to have its headquarters in Des Moines, which does not need help with economic development, rather than in any one of 50 communities in Iowa which actually do need help with economic development?” IEDA is the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Thomson said he has been friends with Prichard for many years and has great respect for him, but although they agree on many topics, they simply have different world views.

“I prefer the Republican worldview, particularly now. My bet is that the majority of people in our district will be more inclined toward the Republican worldview rather than the Democratic approach,” Thomson said.

“My guess — and this is only a guess — is that I am probably a more doctrinaire Republican than Mr. Clark, but that’s based only on the observation that I believe I’ve been involved in more local Republican activities that Mr. Clark,” Thomson said. “I’m a conservative, pro-life, pro-Trump Republican.”

Clark said he believes his working class background makes him well-equipped to represent the district.

“I’m not somebody who’s made a lot of money and says I’m middle class — I’ve faced the same issues that the middle class people in this district face every day,” Clark said. “The decisions made in Des Moines will affect me, too.”

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