Iowa Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer announced Thursday that she is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential primary, becoming the first Iowa Democratic House member to back a candidate in the race.
“Joe Biden’s character, record, and commitment to rebuilding the backbone of the country — the middle class — is what Iowa and this country needs,” the first-term congresswoman said in a statement. “Across the country, and especially in Iowa, too many families are being left behind by our current president. It’s time we have leadership in the White House who believes in the value of not only uniting a divided Congress, but uniting our country through common sense, dignity, and respect.”
Finkenauer’s endorsement of Biden is not a surprise. She worked for his presidential campaign in 2008 and has referenced the former vice president when describing her ideology.
Biden traveled to Cedar Rapids in 2018 to campaign for Finkenauer, a former state legislator who stressed issues including health care and labor in her campaign. She defeated GOP Rep. Rod Blum by 5 points. President Donald Trump carried Iowa’s 1st District by 3 points in 2016, making her a top Republican target in 2020.
The freshman Democrat said last year that she planned to endorse in the race, noting the caucus process is public. Iowa’s two other Democratic House members have yet to weigh in on the race. Rep. Dave Loebsack, who notably backed Obama in late 2007, told CQ Roll Call in August that he was not sure if he would endorse in the race. Rep. Cindy Axne has said she does not think she will endorse in the primary.
While congressional endorsements may not always be game changers, they send a signal to voters and provide presidential contenders with useful surrogates on the campaign trail. Biden leads the primary field in congressional endorsements and is the only presidential candidate to pick up endorsements from lawmakers in one of the four states that host early contests. Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus endorsed Biden last year.
Finkenauer is engaged to a staffer for one of Biden’s rivals. She announced last year that she is engaged to Daniel Wasta, who is serving as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Iowa political director.