IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Republicans were trying Tuesday to sweep Iowa’s four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, pushing to oust a vulnerable Democratic incumbent and to reelect two first-term congresswomen.
If they win all four races, it would be the first time since 1994 that Republicans would win every seat in Iowa’s House delegation.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, a two-term Democrat whose district includes Des Moines and its fast-growing suburbs, is locked in a tight race against GOP state Sen. Zach Nunn.
Nunn has criticized Axne for largely supporting the policies of President Biden, who is deeply unpopular in the state. He has also tried to capitalize on questions about Axne’s stock purchases involving companies overseen by the financial services committee she sits on and her vote for the Inflation Reduction Act by proxy while she was on a family vacation in France.
Axne has attacked Nunn as an anti-abortion extremist, following June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a federal right to abortion. She has pointed to his support in a televised debate before the GOP primary in June to ban abortion without exceptions, even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Nunn has since softened his tone.
Axne’s two victories have been decided by razor-thin margins, unseating David Young in 2018 by 7,709 votes and defeating him by 6,208 votes in a 2020 rematch. Unlike those years, Tuesday’s ballot does not feature a Libertarian Party candidate, Bryan Holder, whose presence may have helped Axne prevail without winning 50 percent of the vote.
When Axne beat Young in 2018, Democrats won three out of Iowa’s four congressional races. But the state has continued its decade-long shift from the center to the right, as rural voters without college degrees abandon the Democratic Party.
New congressional maps, drawn by a nonpartisan commission and approved last year by the GOP-controlled Legislature, also may help the party’s chances of a sweep. Axne’s new district remains closely politically divided but now includes several counties with large Republican majorities she did not previously represent.
The other districts include a heavily Republican area of western Iowa where GOP Rep. Randy Feenstra is expected to cruise to reelection and two others that slightly lean toward the GOP but have competitive races.
In southeastern Iowa, GOP U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks was trying to earn a second term in the House after winning by just six votes in 2020, in the closest congressional race in decades. She is facing a challenge from state Rep. Christina Bohannan, a University of Iowa law professor.
In northeastern Iowa, Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson is trying to fend off a challenge from Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis in a hard-fought race between two former television news anchors.