IA-02 voters likely to elect a woman in 2020

Before this year, no woman had ever represented Iowa in the U.S. House. But after the 2020 general election, women may represent three out of the state’s four Congressional districts.

U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer’s likely Republican challenger in IA-01 is State Representative Ashley Hinson. Representative Cindy Axne has at least even odds to win a second term against presumptive Republican nominee David Young. And the latest campaign finance reports point to a general election match-up between State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks and former State Senator Rita Hart in the second district.

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Where things stand in Iowa's Senate, Congressional races

Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the most intense phase of campaigning in election years. This holiday is also a good time to review the state of play in races for federal offices in odd-numbered years. Though new candidates could emerge at any time before Iowa’s March 2020 filing deadline–Patty Judge was a late arrival to the Democratic U.S. Senate field in 2016–it’s more typical for federal candidates here to kick off their campaigns by the end of summer the year before the election.

Thanks to Iowa’s non-partisan redistricting system, all four U.S. House races here could be competitive in 2020, and our Senate race is on the map–in contrast to 2016, when Senator Chuck Grassley’s re-election was almost a foregone conclusion.

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IA-02's starting to look like a lean Democratic seat

After seven-term Democratic U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack announced plans to retire after his current term, I argued that the open-seat race in Iowa’s second Congressional district looked like a toss-up.

Bobby Schilling made his campaign official on July 8, setting up a likely general election match-up against Rita Hart. Although Democrats should take nothing for granted here, and the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball still rate IA-02 as a toss-up, I’m now considering this a lean Democratic seat for the following reasons.

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Back to the drawing board for Republicans in IA-02

Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley announced on June 22 that he will no longer seek the Republican nomination in Iowa’s second Congressional district. In a statement enclosed in full below, Kedley said after traveling the district in recent weeks, “I realized I wasn’t done yet in Osceola,” and “I feel like I can make the biggest impact at the local and state level.”

Though he was the only declared GOP candidate, Kedley was never likely to become the nominee in IA-02. He lacked name recognition, a base of support in a large county, or a track record with fundraising.

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IA-02: Abby Finkenauer, Cindy Axne endorse Rita Hart

Former State Senator Rita Hart now has the backing of every Democrat representing Iowa in Congress for her bid to succeed Representative Dave Loebsack in the second district. The campaign announced support this morning from Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Cindy Axne (IA-03). I enclose below the full statement.

Loebsack endorsed Hart last month, and State Auditor Rob Sand did the same last week. Former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge and a number of state lawmakers are among more than six dozen other high-profile supporters of Hart in the 24 counties that comprise IA-02. The current press contact for Hart’s campaign, Zachary Meunier, managed Loebsack’s re-election effort in 2018.

With several other prospective Democratic candidates taking themselves out of contention in recent weeks, Newman Abuissa appears likely to be Hart’s only competitor for the 2020 nomination. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will surely back Hart but probably will spend little on the primary.

The Republican field has not yet settled in IA-02. Although the GOP has vowed to play for this seat, and recent voting patterns suggest it could be competitive, I question whether Republicans will invest heavily in the race. Hart is a good fit for the area and should be able to capitalize on the district’s slight Democratic lean.

The 24 counties in IA-02 contain 164,390 active registered Democrats, 142,462 Republicans, and 184,572 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

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