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Politicians, Residents Abound at Coralville's Fourth of July Parade
By Allison Sullivan, Reporter
CORALVILLE, Iowa. Election season is over a year away but several politicians were out mingling with constituents during the Fourth of July festivities.
"It's not an off year at all," said Deb Thornton, Johnson County Republican chairwoman, walking along with 25 other Republican participants.
At Coralville's 4thFEST parade, Democratic and Republican supporters marched in the parade wielding signs with candidates and office holders.
Johnson County Democrats saw a significant number of candidates and politicians in the parade along with a heavy turnout of supporters.
Rep. Bruce Braley, of Iowa's first district, shook hands and waved to parade goers. The four-term United States congressman announced earlier this year he's running for U.S. Senate as Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin steps down after his fifth term.
Braley said the election may be over a year away but "campaigns are built over the longhaul" and walking in Coralville's parade gives him an opportunity to meet voters outside of his district.
"There's a lot of opportunity to make first impressions in a part of the state I've never represented before," Braley said as he quickly wiped his brow.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, Secretary of State hopeful Brad Anderson, Iowa House Rep. Tyler Olson, Iowa Sen. Jack Hatch – eyeing the governor's seat – and other local Democratic candidates, also walked in the parade.
County supervisor John Etheredge, the first county-wide elected Republican since 1962, walked with the Johnson County Republicans.
Although Muscatine Republican Rep. Mark Lofgren was not at the Coralville parade he did participate in other parades throughout the county. Lofgren recently announced a bid for Loebsack's seat.
Loebsack said many Democratic candidates are gearing up for primaries.
"It's a great thing for them to come here," he said of his district. "It's a great area for Democrats."
Johnson County has more than 45,000 registered Democrats and 21,000 Republicans as of July 1, according to the Secretary of State's online registration totals.
Coralville has 5,000 Democrats and 2,457 Republicans as of May, according to the Johnson County Auditor's website.
But Thornton said in a liberal county, successes like Etheredge prove Republicans in the area are "becoming stronger every day."
The political floats were among 98 floats in Coralville's Independence Day parade. Children clad in red, white, and blue munched on candy as roller derby skaters whizzed by a long side baton twirlers. The parade's theme was "Blast from the Past."
For Megan Koepp, a Coralville native who's also participated in the parade in the past, said it's great to see residents and businesses involved.
"It's nice to see the community come together," the 26-year-old said.