DCCC backing Abby Finkenauer in IA-01

The main political arm of U.S. House Democrats is officially promoting Abby Finkenauer as its preferred candidate to take on Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first district.

Finkenauer was among the initial group named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program for this election cycle, as first reported by Roll Call’s Simone Pathe on November 15. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Representative Jimmy Panetta were featured guests at a Cedar Rapids fundraiser for Finkenauer’s campaign on November 19.

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IA-01: If Rod Blum wasn't worried before, he should be now

Reviewing the Democratic “tidal wave” in Virginia on Tuesday, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report commented, “You can’t really look at tonight’s results and conclude that Democrats are anything other than the current favorites to pick up the U.S. House in 2018.” A backlash against President Donald Trump and Congressional Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fueled strong Democratic turnout, sinking far more Virginia GOP state legislators than expected.

That’s not the only reason Representative Rod Blum should be feeling more nervous about winning a third term in Iowa’s first Congressional district.

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IA-01, IA-03: Polls find Blum and Young below 50 percent

Republican Representatives Rod Blum and David Young have approval ratings below 40 percent and re-elect numbers below 50 percent, according to new surveys from Public Policy Polling.

The Patriot Majority Fund, a super-PAC that largely opposes GOP incumbents, commissioned polls in nine House districts around the country, including the two in Iowa that Democrats will target next year.

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Jeff Danielson rules out Congressional campaign in IA-01

State Senator Jeff Danielson has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s first Congressional district, he told KWWL’s Ron Steele on September 21.

“I’ll remain focused on the Cedar Valley and support the candidates and causes I care about.”

Danielson is a professional firefighter for the City of Cedar Falls. He says that important obligation and commitment, in addition to his obligations as a current Iowa State Senator, make very difficult, if not impossible, to run a successful campaign for U.S. Congress at this time.

Danielson had been considering the race for several months, with a view to pushing Iowa Democrats to ditch “canned messages” and “purity tests” in favor of issues with broad appeal: “keeping people safe,” “being fiscally responsible,” investing in education, providing access to health care, and “focusing on an economy that rewards work.”

Four Democrats are running against two-term Representative Rod Blum: State Representative Abby Finkenauer, Thomas Heckroth, George Ramsey III, and Courtney Rowe. I’m not aware of any others exploring this race. So far Finkenauer and Heckroth have more endorsements than the others in the field.

After the jump I’ve enclosed audio clips from recent stump speeches by Heckroth, Ramsey, Rowe, and a surrogate for Finkenauer. Bleeding Heartland previously posted the audio and transcript of Finkenauer’s remarks to a Democratic audience in Des Moines.

The 20 counties in IA-01 contain 159,852 active registered Democrats, 142,665 Republicans, and 188,949 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office. The district will be a top target for Democrats in Iowa and nationally. Last November, Blum ran about 5 points ahead of Donald Trump, who carried IA-01 with 48.7 percent of the vote, compared to 45.2 percent for Hillary Clinton.

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The new Afghanistan strategy sounds a lot like the old Afghanistan strategy

President Donald Trump changed the subject last night. Instead of another day of news on the fallout from his horrific response to a white supremacist rally, the commander in chief announced a new strategy for the U.S. in Afghanistan in a prime-time televised address. It wasn’t a typical Trump speech: he read carefully from a teleprompter.

Foreign policy isn’t my strong suit, so I’ve spent much of today reading analysis by those who have closely followed our military and diplomatic strategy during our country’s longest war. The consensus: Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan is neither new nor likely to produce the victory the president promised.

To my knowledge, the only Iowan in Congress to release a public statement on last night’s speech was Senator Joni Ernst. I enclose her generally favorable comments near the end of this post, along with a critical statement from Thomas Heckroth, one of the Democrats running in Iowa’s first district. James Hohmann compiled some other Congressional reaction for the Washington Post.

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