The candidates facing off in Iowa’s first congressional district made their pitches to grassroots activists at their state party conventions this weekend.
“My friends, I’m the number one target of the Democrats in the nation. I’m the number one target of Nancy Pelosi’s. And I was two years ago as well, but we’re still here, right?,” Republican Congressman Rod Blum of Dubuque asked Saturday, getting cheers from Iowa GOP delegates in Des Moines.
AUDIO of Blum’s speech, 8:30
Challenger Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque spoke across town to Democratic Party delegates.
“It is the honor of my life to be the Democratic nominee..and send Rod Blum home packing,” Finkenauer said, getting interrupted by cheers from Democratic delegates before she continued, “and make sure we bring some common sense and decency back to Washington, D.C. in November.”
AUDIO of Finkenauer’s speech, 4:40
The first congressional district covers 20 counties in the northeast quadrant of the state. It has a slight voter registration edge for Democrats compared to Republicans, but independents are the largest block of voters. The race is a battle to win over the independents who voted for President Obama in 2012 and President Trump in 2016, as both men won the district by a comfortable margin.
Finkenauer made a pitch to independents during her Saturday speech.
“Talking to folks in rural Iowa and our cities, what I realized really quickly was that 2018 wasn’t going to come down to whether you were a Democrat or a Republican, it was going to come down to our values and who are we as a state and as a country,” Finkenauer said.
Blum told his fellow Republicans that Democrats are trying to “demoralize” Republican voters so they won’t show up at the polls in November.
“The Democrat Party, aided and abetted by a biased media…they want you to believe that our president…is very unpopular. Not true,” Blum said. “…They want us to believe this economy is good because of former President Obama’s policies. LOL. Are you kidding me?”
Congressman Blum, a businessman seeking a third term in the U.S. House, beat the former speaker of the Iowa House in 2014 and a Cedar Rapids city councilwoman in 2016 to retain his seat. Finkenauer has been a state legislator since January of 2015 and would be the youngest women ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives if she prevails in November.