Iowa Democrats Pick 2 Women in Competitive House Races Against Blum, Young

Abby Finkenauer, Cindy Axne both avoid runoffs in Hawkeye State

Reps. Rod Blum, center, and David Young, right, here with fellow Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King at an event on the Hill in January, are facing competitive re-election races once again. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Iowa Democrats are targeting two Republican congressmen this fall, and they chose two women as their nominees in the 1st and 3rd districts in Tuesday’s primaries. No woman has ever been elected to the House from the Hawkeye State. 

President Donald Trump carried both districts in 2016, but Democrats believe a favorable national environment and strong challengers could make these Republicans vulnerable.

1st District

State Rep. Abby Finkenauer won the Democratic primary in the 1st District to take on Rep. Rod Blum, one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents

She topped a four-candidate field  with 67 percent of the vote, easily avoiding a runoff at the state party convention next week. Former Obama administration official Thomas Heckroth was a distant second with 19 percent. 

Finkenauer was endorsed by EMILY’s List, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights. She was also on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program for strong challengers. She outraised Blum in both the last fundraising quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.

But Blum does have an advantage in cash on hand with nearly $1.4 million in his campaign coffers as of May 16, the end of the pre-primary filing period. Finkenauer had $496,000 in the bank.

President Barack Obama carried the district twice by double digits, before it backed Trump by 3 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up.

Watch: Iowa’s Blum Now Most Vulnerable House Member, Nelson Moves Up List for Senate

3rd District

Small-business owner Cindy Axne won the Democratic primary to challenge two-term GOP Rep. David Young in the 3rd District.

She also avoided a runoff, taking 58 percent of the vote and outpacing her nearest challenger, insurance broker Eddie Mauro, who had 27 percent. 

Axne was endorsed by EMILY’s List and benefited from $264,000 in spending by the group’s independent expenditure arm Women Vote! during the primary.

Trump carried the district by 3 points in 2016, after it backed Obama twice. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.

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