US House Races/Iowa

Report by Bruce Driver from Indivisible North Boulder.

Iowa District 01:

Candidates are Rod Blum (incumbent R) and Abby Finkenauer (D).   She won her primary on June 5 with 67% of the vote.   Blum had no competition in his primary.

Blum is a two-term incumbent who won with 54% of the vote in 2016.   He graduated from Loras College with a degree in Finance and from University of Dubuque with an MBA.   He is a former software executive and high-school basketball coach. In the House he is a member of the Freedom Caucus.   His votes and positions show that he is a hard-core, Trump-supporting right-winger.   He favors a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the tax-cut bill of 2017, amendments to Dodd-Frank, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, de-funding of Planned Parenthood, concealed-carry reciprocity, the Comey firing, repeal of Obamacare and Trump’s harsh original Executive Order on immigration.   He is a second amendment guy, wants to de-fund sanctuary cities, opposes regulation of greenhouse gases and says that marriage issues should be resolved at the state level. However he voted against the Omnibus Budget Bill because it “spent too much,” distinguishing himself from many other Republicans in the House who claim the mantle of fiscal sanity.   He had $1.4 million in cash on hand in May.

Finkenauer is a 29-year old graduate of Drake University where she earned a degree in Public Relations and Business.   She worked for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and was on the board of Greater Dubuque Development Corporation.   She was also a two-term member of the Iowa House of Representatives. Her statement of positions on the issues is a little thin, but she says she is working on amplifying it.   She says she is pro-choice, seeks access to birth control for women, believes health care is a human right and wants to move in the direction of a public option for consumers, wants to increase investment in infrastructure and to foster investment in family farms.  She believes that climate change is already a serious problem for eastern Iowa and decries Trump’s exit from the Paris Agreement. She had $496,000 in cash on hand in May.

Description of district: This is NE Iowa and includes the cities of Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.   Its HMI was about $38,000, and it is about two-thirds urban. It is said to be 93% White, 4% Black, 1% Asian and 2% Hispanic.   Trump won by 4% in 2016. Cook says it has a PVI of D+1 and rates the race as a “toss-up” in 2018.

Summary: Finkenauer would be a significant improvement in representation of this district.  The race is winnable for Finkenauer, provided we and others help her out. Blum is not popular in this increasingly urbanized district, but he has been a reliable vote for business and socially conservative policies in the House and will no doubt be well-supported financially.   


Iowa District 03:

Candidates are David Young (incumbent R) and Cindy Axne (D).   Axne won her primary with 58% of the vote.  Young ran unopposed.

Young is a two-term incumbent who graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in English.  He won by 14% in 2016. He has spent most of his life after college in D.C, as staff to R Senator Hank Brown (CO), staff director for R Senator Jim Bunning (Kentucky) and staff director to R Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa.   His website has as little detail on what he stands for as any other website I’ve reviewed for these reports. Instead he says he’ll “apply Iowa values” to a problem to solve it or he’ll eliminate “Waste, Fraud and Abuse.” His voting record reveals another hard-right R.   He voted for the tax-cut bill, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, concealed-carry reciprocity, penalties on sanctuary cities, repeal of Obamacare (but he wants to keep pre-existing conditions coverage and up-to-age-26 coverage by parents’ plans), cut off of federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the Omnibus Budget bill.   He opposes same-sex marriage and he wants to sunset every federal law (a cheap shot, since he knows this cannot be done.) He has voted 99% with Trump. He had $1 million cash on hand in May.

Axne is the owner of a small business, a digital design firm.   She graduated from the University of Iowa and obtained an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.   She worked for ten years for the state of Iowa, promoting efficiency and effectiveness of the programs of 20 state agencies, including overseeing the Governor’s Agenda on Clean Energy and the Environment.   She supports: (1) equal pay for equal work; (2) tax relief for small businesses; (3) adoption of a public option for health care; (4) maintenance and improvement of Obamacare; (5) expanding Pell Grants and a cap on interest rates on student loans; (6) family farms; (7) bringing clean energy to Iowa (Iowa has the second greatest amount of wind power capacity in the country, which she takes some credit for while working for the state); (8) reining in dark money by a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United; (9) keeping politicians out of personal decisions between a woman and her doctor; (10) beating back efforts to privatize Social Security and Medicare and (11) equality for the LGBTQ community.   She won her contested primary with 57% of the vote. In May she had $171,000 cash on hand.

Description of district: West Des Moines and most of SW Iowa to the Nebraska and Missouri borders.   About three-quarters urban, its HMI is about $43,000. 92% White, 3% Black, 2% Asian and 3% Hispanic.   Trump won by 4% in 2016. Cook gives it a 1% R advantage and rates the race as “Lean R.”

Summary: Axne looks like a top-flight candidate, with insights into and explanation about policy that is surprising for someone who has not spent time in D.C.   But she is way behind Young in terms of financial resources. She’s someone who seems to deserve and truly needs our help.