The state of Iowa holds a special status in political circles. Its first-in-the-nation presidential caucus means that every four years, this state in the center of our nation becomes a partisan stage. Political consultants think of Iowa and they think “How can we win?” or, perhaps more to the point “How can we beat the other candidates?”

A lesser-known fact about Iowa is that its own elected officials are adept at putting partisan politics aside to get things done. The state is in fact an outstanding example of good government and problem solving, and the nature of Iowa politics — versus the national politics that visit Iowa — is highly collaborative.

Iowa’s legislative makeup currently mirrors that of the U.S. Congress, with Republicans controlling the state House and Democrats controlling the state Senate, but that hasn’t stopped legislators and Republican Governor Terry Branstad from working together and getting a lot done for their state.

That’s why those who really know Iowa won’t be surprised that No Labels — a national movement dedicated to the new politics of problem solving — has awarded our “Problem Solver Seal of Approval” to both candidates in Iowa’s hotly-contested and closely-watched U.S. Senate race.

State Sen. Joni Ernst is a Republican who thinks government has become too big and too expensive, and she wants to win Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat. Her opponent, Congressman Bruce Braley, is a Democrat dedicated to fighting for the middle class. He wants to be the next senator from Iowa, too. As most Washingtonians know, the stakes for these two candidates couldn’t be higher, as this race will help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

But in spite of the fact that both Ernst and Braley are fighting, hard, to win and to show the people of Iowa why they are different — it’s clear that they share some key goals. In endorsing the process of creating No Labels’ National Strategic Agenda, they are both displaying leadership. Instead of trying to win another political point, Braley and Ernst stand united in a commitment to common sense and problem solving.

The No Labels National Strategic Agenda in development now is built on these four goals that leaders from all over the country — including Braley and Ernst — have already agreed on:

•    Create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years;
•    Balance the federal budget by 2030;
•    Secure Medicare and Social Security for the next 75 years; and
•    Make America energy secure by 2024.

With these four goals established, leaders like Braley, Ernst and hundreds of others are now committed to finding policy options to get America there. Created with input from people across the country at a series of Ideas meetings over the course of the coming year, the National Strategic Agenda will provide the answers as to how America can unite, across party lines, to solve some of the most important challenges we face.

When the full policy agenda is ready in October 2015 — built on policy solutions that have commanded broad agreement across the political spectrum — the National Strategic Agenda will be unveiled in Iowa and New Hampshire, just in time to inform the debate around the next presidential election.

The ultimate goal of No Labels — and leaders like Ernst and Braley who support the National Strategic Agenda — is for the next president to use the agenda as the framework for action.

In five weeks, the voters of Iowa will decide whether Bruce Braley or Joni Ernst will represent them in the U.S. Senate. Either way, this problem-solving state will have a senator who knows how to put partisan politics aside — without compromising their strongly-held beliefs — to agree on things that make common sense. That’s something Iowa can be proud of, and something other states should aspire to for the good of the country.