And no lawmaker in the midst of what could be the closest congressional election in the country likes to be ambushed by a constituent while a reporter is around.
Fortunately for Latham (and unfortunately for the reporter who was ready for some juicy conflict), this could not have been planned any better for the campaign.
"Excuse me, Mr. Latham," she said. "I just wanted to thank you. I was having trouble getting a passport. I went through every possible office, and your office in Ames was the only one able to help me."
Rhoads said she was born to U.S. military parents stationed in Germany. When her mother died, she and her father moved back home. When her father decided more than 40 years later it was time to visit their old home in Germany, Jana wasn't able to get a passport because she had no birth certificate.
Enter constituent services: "Through the congressman's help I was able to get a passport approved and we had the time of our lives," she recalled. "And it turned out to be the best time to go. Dad has had health problems since. Now I know if the question comes up, I have documentation."
Of course she will be voting for Latham in the election. And in a race with just 6,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, every vote will count.
As it turns out, Rhoads's vote can be considered more valuable than most. In order for Latham (or his opponent, fellow congressman, Democrat Leonard Boswell), to win, they will need to pick up independents. And while Rhoads has decided firmly to support Latham, she is still undecided when it comes to the presidential race.
"I can support Latham, but that doesn't necessarily translate to [Mitt] Romney," said Rhoads, who works for the Iowa Department of Human Services. "Just because they are in the same party doesn't mean they are each going to have my support."
Rhoads said that she and her friends have become fed up with the tenor of the presidential races and would much rather it have a more moderate feel, like the congressional race in her Des Moines district.
"The presidential race is so negative, I'd much rather hear about what they would actually do, rather than what makes the other guy so bad," she said. "To be honest, there's just so much noise that I can't feel confident about the election either way."
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