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Finkenauer Hopes To Keep Iowa's 1st District In The Democratic Column

Katarina Sostaric
IPR File
Democratic Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is running for re-election to represent Iowa's 1st District.

Abby Finkenauer has represented Iowa’s 1st Congressional District since 2018 when she became the second-youngest woman to ever be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Before her time in Congress, she was a member of Iowa's House of Representatives. Earlier this year, Finkenauer voted with Democrats to impeach President Trump. She says affordable healthcare is the top priority in her re-election bid.

“I don’t think it really matters who you are, Democrat or Republican, if you’ve got a pre-existing condition or know someone who does which is most folks in our country, you are worried right now watching what could mean a Supreme Court decision on the ACA where they would overturn those protections,“ said Finkenauer. “So we’ve been passing bills in the House trying to protect that and also making sure everyone has coverage and access no matter where they live.”

Although analysis by several organizations during the past few months has called the race a toss-up, a poll last week by Monmouth University shows Finkenauer holds a larger lead over her GOP challenger, state lawmaker Ashley Hinson. The poll data shows the race stands at 52 percent for Finkenauer to 44 precent for Hinson among all registered voters, with 3 percent undecided. The poll also found women back Finkenauer by a 61 percent to 35 percent margin, while men prefer Hinson 53 percent to 43 percent.

University of Northern Iowa political science professor Chris Larimer said the 1st District is unique because nearly one-third of the voters register as no party. He explained that makes it more challenging to target the audience.

“The rural-urban divide is there, it’s a district where candidates have to be careful from straying too far from a “moderate” policy position, whatever that might look like and that might be difficult.” Larimer said. “I think it’s going to be particularly difficult this year because it seems as though all races that are not the top of the ballot below the presidential race are really being consumed by the narrative surrounding the presidential race, and so I think that makes it difficult for both candidates to try and separate themselves. The narrative people are hearing at the national level because that narrative is so loud everything else is being drowned out.”

One way Finkenauer has tried to separate herself from the Beltway, is with one of the tag lines in her campaign commercials.

“I will always have your back, because this is where I come from, you are who I fight for, these are the values we share and yes this is personal,” she said in one campaign ad.

The situation became personal for Finkenauer on August 10, just two days after her wedding, when a hurricane force wind storm called a derecho ripped through the district, leaving thousands without power for weeks.

“There is so much work left to do here to make sure folks get what they need and I will continue to have their backs through that and I want to make sure that we see this through whether it’s getting assistance through FEMA or what have you, so they can get what they need right now,” said Finkenauer. “We’re going to continue to uplift those priorities, uplift what we’re hearing here, and work with our cities and counties that have been affected and continue on that road.“

Professor Larimer said he believes consistently putting distance between DC and eastern Iowa is probably a good strategy for Finkenauer.

“The way that her campaign is trying to reach out to voters seems to be keeping the same theme from 2018 about that this is “personal” for Congresswoman Finkenauer and I think that’s a real attempt to focus on the voters in the district and that constituent casework,” said Larimer. “Her campaign is not coming out and saying that she’s running as a Washington outsider because you really can’t as an incumbent, but I think it is an attempt to just really focus on constituents within the district.”

Iowa’s 1st District covers 20 counties mostly in northeast Iowa and includes the cities of Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown.

Pat Blank is the host of All Things Considered