Rod Blum

House freshmen try to keep it local as presidential race steals the spotlight
Iowa Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer are taking similar approaches to their reelections

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, flips pork burgers at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES — Rep. Cindy Axne’s letter to Customs and Border Protection about African swine fever didn’t make national news. But it did prompt a “thank you” from a man with the Iowa Pork Association as Axne flipped pork burgers last week at the Iowa State Fair.

Attention to issues like that disease, which could threaten the country’s pork industry if it reached the U.S., is how first-term Democratic lawmakers like Axne are working to win reelection in 2020.

Loebsack backed Obama over Clinton in 2007, but unsure about 2020 field
Retiring seven-term Democrat questions whether his backing would make a difference

Rep. Dave Loebsack speaks with reporters Friday at the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Back in late 2007, Rep. Dave Loebsack’s endorsement provided a boost to Barack Obama’s battle to deny the Democratic presidential nomination to fellow senator Hillary Clinton.

But with 13 current or former House and Senate colleagues vying for president in a crowded 2020 field of two dozen candidates — including Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden — the Iowa Democrat is questioning whether he should wade in at all.

The Iowa State Fair: Our proactive primer on politics, pork and public officials
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 85

Politicians love to hang out at the Iowa State Fair, so that is where Political Theater will relocate next week to cover all the political races — for president, Senate and House — as well as various foods served on a stick. Here, Republican Rep. Steve King and future Sen. Joni Ernst hang out amid the pork at the Pork Tent in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Political Theater is heading to the Iowa State Fair to check out how the 2020 races for president and Senate and four competitive House contests are shaping up in this bellwether state. Why Iowa? Because that’s where the candidates are.

Bridget Bowman, our senior political writer, and Leah Askarinam of Inside Elections lay it all out for us on the latest episode of Political Theater. 

Iowans prep for fierce 2020 fight — and not just for the White House
All four House districts will be contested, in addition to competitive Senate race

Iowa Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne is a top Republican target in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Iowans are used to the spotlight in presidential election years, and with the number of Democrats eyeing the nomination approaching two dozen, it may be difficult this year to travel in the state without running into a candidate or the media entourage that comes with them.

But for Iowa voters, the more intense political battles in 2020 might actually be further down the ballot.

Ethics Office Report Released on Lame Duck Rod Blum
House Ethics jurisdiction will expire when Iowa Republican leaves Congress

Outgoing Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, is the subject of an ethics inquery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on allegations against Iowa Republican Rod Blum Monday, while the House Ethics Committee announced that it is continuing its own inquiry, but likely not for long.

The House Ethics panel began the inquiry into Blum in July when it received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics and extended the inquiry in early September. In February, the Associated Press reported that Blum violated House ethics rules by failing to disclose his ownership role in a new company and that his top federal staffer was featured in a false testimonial promoting the company’s services.

Congressional Ethics Office Refers Four Cases to House Committee
With members leaving or feds investigating, most cases likely to not proceed

The Office of Congressional Ethics referred four cases to the House Ethics Committee last quarter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Office of Congressional Ethics sent four referrals to the House Ethics committee for further review in the third quarter of 2018, according to a report released Thursday.

Although the report did not name names associated with the referrals, the Ethics Committee has announced actions on OCE referrals concerning current members between July and September.

Democrats Take Control of the House With Victories in the Suburbs
Republicans struggled in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016

Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defeated GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida's 26th District.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are poised to take over the House after notching key victories in the suburbs.

NBC, ABC News and CNN projected Democrats would take control of the chamber even as the outcome in number of competitive races remains unclear. But early Democratic victories signaled a tough night for Republicans, especially in the 25 GOP-held districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

As House Republicans Brace for Losses, Freedom Caucus Prepares for Growth
Hard-line conservative bloc has been raising millions to help recruit new members

Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., was an early recruit of the Freedom Caucus and she is now the group’s only female member. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At a time when most House Republican factions are preparing to see their ranks shrink regardless of whether their party loses its majority next week, one caucus is expecting its membership to grow.

The House Freedom Caucus, considered the most conservative bloc of Republicans in Congress, is expecting to increase its roster of 35 members to somewhere in the 37-to-40 range, based on the number of incumbent and recruited candidates they predict could lose Tuesday.

GOP Poll Shows Close Race for Rod Blum in Iowa’s 1st District
Republican incumbent is still 2 points behind Democrat Abby Finkenauer

Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, is facing a competitive re-election race in Iowa’s 1st District against Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An internal poll for Rep. Rod Blum has found the vulnerable Iowa Republican narrowly trailing Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer in the 1st District.

The poll, conducted by The Polling Company, showed Finkenauer leading Blum 45 percent to 43 percent, within the 4.9 percentage-point margin of error. Four percent of respondents backed a third-party candidate, while 6 percent were undecided. 

Trump Largely Focuses on Own Re-Election at Iowa Rally for GOP Incumbents
President wants to find out if Elizabeth Warren really ‘has Indian blood’

President Donald Trump, here in July, was in Iowa on Tuesday night for a campaign rally for two vulnerable House Republicans. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Very much in re-election mode even before next month’s midterms, President Donald Trump took jabs at potential Democratic candidates at an Iowa rally Tuesday night, calling their party “an angry mob.”

“You don’t hand matches to an arsonists. And you don’t hand power to an angry mob,” he told rallygoers in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “If you want to defeat the swamp, you’ll have to elect Republicans.”