IA-01: Will Republicans give up on Rod Blum? Should they?

Yet another special election for a U.S. House seat suggests a wave may be building. Although the Democratic candidate appears to have fallen short in Ohio’s twelfth district, the close result in what has long been a safe Republican seat should worry GOP leaders. Dan Guild noted that there are 68 Republican-held House districts where Hillary Clinton did better in November 2016 than she did in OH-12.

“[S]enior party strategists have concluded that over a dozen districts held by Republicans may already be unwinnable,” Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin reported for the New York Times on August 8.

Iowa’s first Congressional district may be one of the places where House leaders decide to cut their losses. But no one should write two-term Representative Rod Blum’s political obituary yet.

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Election forecaster moves IA-03 to toss up, IA-04 to likely R

Two of Iowa’s Congressional districts are among the seventeen U.S. House seats where Sabato’s Crystal Ball has adjusted its ratings in favor of Democrats. Until now, the non-partisan election forecaster saw Iowa’s first district (Rod Blum) as a “toss-up” race, IA-03 (David Young) as “lean Republican,” and IA-04 (Steve King) as “safe Republican.”

Today analysts moved Young’s race to “toss-up” and King’s to “likely Republican.”

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IA-03: Five promising signs for Cindy Axne, three for David Young

Two of Iowa’s four Congressional campaigns are among the most competitive U.S. House races in the country. On July 18, the Cook Political Report moved the third district contest from “lean Republican” to “toss up,” saying Democratic challenger Cindy Axne “has developed into a serious threat” to two-term Republican incumbent David Young.

While it’s always been clear IA-03 would be in play this cycle, insiders in both parties and election forecasters have generally seen Young as less vulnerable than GOP Representative Rod Blum. Iowa’s first district has been widely acknowledged as a toss-up race for months. Even now, Young looks better positioned to survive a possible Democratic wave election than Blum.

Here’s why Democrats and Republicans have grounds to feel optimistic about IA-03:

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Grassley, Ernst confirm DOJ official with Russia ties, little experience

The new leader of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division has never prosecuted a case and recently represented a major Russian bank aligned with the Kremlin. Nevertheless, Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst joined every Republican present (plus one conservative Democrat) to confirm Brian Benczkowski on July 11 as assistant attorney general.

What could go wrong?

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House approves Farm Bill with food assistance cuts: How the Iowans voted

The U.S. House approved a five-year farm bill on June 21 by 213 votes to 211, with support from Iowa GOP Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04). Every Democrat present, including Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02), voted against the bill, as did 20 Republicans (roll call).

A conservative bloc had voted down the same legislation in May, seeking to force House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote on an immigration bill drafted by Robert Goodlatte. The tactic worked, in the sense that House leaders brought Goodlatte’s bill to the floor shortly before the farm bill. However, the immigration measure lacked the votes to pass the chamber.

According to Politico’s Catherine Boudreau, the legislation was “the first farm bill to pass either chamber with only one-party support,” because “Democrats revolted over its proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.”

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Hardline House immigration bill fails: How the Iowans voted

U.S. House members rejected by 231 votes to 193 one of two immigration bills leaders had planned to bring to the floor on June 21. Judiciary Committee Chair Robert Goodlatte’s legislation “had not been expected to pass, but conservatives had sought a vote on it anyway,” Thomas Kaplan and Nicholas Fandos reported for the New York Times.

The Goodlatte bill would have sharply reduced legal immigration while beefing up border security, cracking down on so-called sanctuary cities and requiring employers to use a system called E-Verify to confirm that they are hiring legal workers. It would have offered a three-year renewable legal status to DACA recipients.

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