State Representative Abby Finkenauer has won her primary to be the Democratic nominee for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. If she defeats incumbent Republican Rod Blum in November, at 28 she may well be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Another young female candidate in California is running too, but no woman younger than Finkenauer has won a congressional seat before this year.
Finkenauer won her four-way primary in convincing fashion, capturing 67% of the vote. Thomas Heckroth came in second with 19%.
Iowa’s 1st District will be at the top of the target list for Democrats nationally. EMILY’s List endorsed Finkenauer early on and will likely pour substantial resources into the district for the general election. Joe Biden endorsed Finkenauer over the weekend; she worked at a young age on his 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign.
Finkenauer herself has already put together a strong campaign. She has impressed with her strong fundraising totals, bringing in $1.2 million for her candidacy so far. That’s particularly noteworthy for a younger candidate who doesn’t have a lifetime of donor connections to draw from.
Blum has been called the most vulnerable incumbent in Congress by several news outlets. But he was also seen as weak in his first reelection in 2016, only to end up winning by a comfortable eight-point margin. That year, Donald Trump flipped many counties in Northeast Iowa from blue to red. How well Democrats are able to win back some of those voters will likely determine Finkenauer’s success.
Finkenauer has specifically centered her campaign around working class family themes, highlighting her own blue collar roots in Dubuque.
She already has a good deal of legislative experience under her belt. She defeated several men in a Democratic primary in 2014 to win her first race for her Dubuque-based seat in the Iowa House.
The 1st Congressional District covers Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Cedar Falls/Waterloo, and many rural counties in Northeast Iowa.
by Pat Rynard