Clean Sweep for Iowa's Congressional Incumbents

Iowa’s congressional incumbents all won reelection Tuesday, as the delegation remains at three Republicans and one Democrat. 

Republican 1st District Rep. Rod Blum of Dubuque defeated former Cedar Rapids council member Monica Vernon, capturing 54 percent of the vote across 20 counties in northeast Iowa.

Once the race was called in his favor, Blum told a raucous crowd in Dubuque that’s he is going back to Capitol Hill finish what he started when he voted against then-House Speaker John Boehner.

“The Washington establishment, the ruling class, put their finger in my chest and I will never forget these words: ‘You will never be back, you just ended your political career,’” he said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had targeted Rod Blum as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress. Blum says he overcame a lot to win reelection.

“Because [we] have been targeted since January of 2015 by the D-triple-C,” he said. “I was hounded by the media, we were followed by trackers videotaping every step and they said I had no chance to come back to Washington DC.”

3rd District Rep. David Young addressed supporters gathered in downtown Des Moines.
Credit John Pemble/IPR

In southwest Iowa’s 3rd District, another freshman congressman, David Young, won reelection over challenger Jim Mowrer by a 53-40% margin. 

In his victory speech in downtown Des Moines, Young thanked his campaign staff, family and Jesus Christ, saying he was humbled to be able to return to Congress.

Despite the national attention on what was viewed as a highly competitive race, Young ran a fairly low-key campaign, and often said he aims to be the most accessible Representative in Congress to constituents.

“The speaker of the House isn’t my boss,” Young told IPR at this victory gathering. “The people of the 3rd District are my boss and I’m accountable to them.”

Young pledges to continue his work on fixing the veterans’ suicide prevention hotline, making the federal government fiscally responsible and curtailing overregulation.  He says he wants to particularly focus on regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“If the EPA is going to do these things, they really need to take into account the opinions of the stakeholders,” he said. “The people on the ground in Iowa whether it’s farmers, working men and women in construction and development, because it’s not just about agriculture. It’s about any kind of development.”

4th District Rep. Steve King met with supporters Tuesday night in Sioux City.
Credit Amy Mayer/IPR

The race in Iowa’s 4th District was never considered in doubt, as Republican Steve King easily cruised to an eighth term representing the state’s conservative northwest and north-central region.  At a gathering in Sioux City, King said he felt less pressure than he has in previous campaigns.

“It was low-key for me, very, very low key and I didn’t hear any issues that were brought forward by my opponent that got any traction at all,” said King, who captured 61% of Tuesday’s vote.

King’s challenger, Democrat Kim Weaver, was seeking her first elected office.

King says he’ll prioritize tighter immigration policy, repealing Obamacare and reducing federal regulations in the next Congress.

King also applauded his colleagues for tipping the Iowa state senate to the GOP.

“You have a majority in the senate, you have a majority in the house, you have a governor that will sign almost everything you send his way,” he advised Republican state lawmakers. “Push it really hard and fast.”

2nd District Rep. Dave Loebsack in Iowa City Tuesday night.
Credit Clare Roth

Iowa’s lone Democrat in the congressional delegation completed a sweep for the state’s incumbents.  Congressman Dave Loebsack defeated Republican Chris Peters, an Iowa City surgeon, 54-46%, to win a sixth term representing the 2nd District in southeast Iowa.

Loebsack’s reelection was one of the few bright spots for Democrats in yesterday’s election. 

“It’s been tough, no doubt,” he said. “Look, economic recovery we know has not been as strong as we want it to be. There is a lot of frustration, there is a lot of anger out there. And clearly that was tapped into this time. And folks took it out on Democrats, there’s no doubt about that.”

Loebsack says the Democratic Party has “some soul searching” to do in the wake of this election, to win more support among voters.

“We need to speak to their concerns, to their anxieties, to the angst that’s out there,” he said. “I think a lot of folks tried to do that, but it’s difficult, and there will be a lot of soul searching, there will be a lot of questions, and there hopefully will be a lot of answers on how to do that better in the future.”