Second-time Iowa House District 95 candidate Christian Andrews gathered supporters and fellow candidates last weekend for a socially distanced campaign rally—with about two weeks until election day, Andrews said all needed to intensify efforts to finally flip the Iowa House blue.
At the Linn County Fairgrounds in Central City on Saturday, a number of cars parked at a distance to hear live music and elected officials like Sen. Liz Mathis, Rep. Jo Oldson, Rep. Molly Donahue and a number of others speak on behalf of Andrews and engage voter turnout.
The lesser-known but promising Iowa House pick-up district for Democrats includes portions of northern and eastern Linn County and encompasses Center Point and Mount Vernon and parts of southeastern Buchanan County. It had Republican Rep. Louie Zumbach’s seat before his retirement this year. It’s been a swing district in most cycles, though trended Republican during the start of the Donald Trump years.
Andrews, a Mount Vernon public works employee who lost against Zumbach in 2018 for the seat said he’s optimistic about this race—he’s over tripled his campaign funds and has much more name recognition than Republican competitor Charlie McClintock, a public safety professional and the part-time mayor for the city of Alburnett during an election cycle influenced by COVID-19 and the derecho.
The swing district voted for President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by about 10 points, while Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds beat Democratic competitor Fred Hubbell by about four points in the 2018 Governor’s race. President Obama won the district in 2012 by six points over Mitt Romney, however.
“I have volunteers I haven’t seen in two years and some that I’ve never met. It’s been a lot of support, but I can’t even see it all,” Andrews said at the campaign event on Saturday.
August’s derecho hit Andrews’ district hard– and as a service-oriented public works employee and volunteer EMS for the Lisbon/Mount Vernon ambulance service—he said campaigning had to slow even further than it has because of pandemic concerns. He and his campaign volunteers went around central Iowa to help with storm cleanup and f0rwent any election efforts.
“I worked 12-hour days for the city to clean up our town, and on the weekends I went to Cedar Rapids, which was just so devastated,” Andrews said. “I was helping people do tree work and cleanup from Hiawatha to Palo to Cedar Rapids. Not all in my district, but there was such a need. And we recognized that need. I wasn’t phone calling, I wasn’t doing the limited voter outreach that I have, even.”
But the candidate’s sometimes slow-paced campaigning has not influenced his ability to raise money. In new state campaign finance reports posted yesterday, Andrews reported raising $295,000, the second-most of any Democratic candidate, behind only House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard.
“The financial support we can see. It’s been amazing. I had no idea we would raise as much as we have. We’ve at least tripled our numbers from last time. It’s a stupid number.”
In total from mid-July to mid-October, Democrats have spent $319,000 in the district, compared to Republicans’ $277,000 for McClintock. Andrews said he feels some pressure to win the race because he knows it would be instrumental in flipping the Iowa House from Republican control.
“This campaign feels different in that there is a sense of urgency. If we’re going to get our state running in the proper direction again, losing is not an option,” he said. “We just can’t accept losing. We have to flip the House, we have to make a dent, and if we can flip the Senate we can really check Gov. Reynolds and her disastrous decisions, with COVID for instance.”
Andrews said that others in the state and nationally have also identified the importance of his race.
“We have so many small-dollar donors coming in from everywhere,” Andrews said. “People have finally figured out, until we take back our local governments from Koch brothers and other groups that have been buying Legislatures … we can do this and fix legislatures everywhere.”
At Andrews’ event on Saturday, other elected officials highlighted the importance of down-ballot Democratic voting, especially for Andrews.
“Worry about the things that you can change. What’s the number one thing you have control over? It’s your vote. It’s your vote. So get off your butt and get to the polls. And then take somebody else with you,” said Sen. Liz Mathis, on Saturday. “You’ve got to make sure that your voice is heard and the one thing you can do is cast that ballot. So that’s what I’m here for today and I want you to cast your ballot for Christian because he would make a great addition to the House.”
by Isabella Murray
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