Simpson College political science professor John Epperson says a lot of money is being spent on this race.
“I think Democrats have a chance of picking up the seat, for sure,” Epperson says, “but Young and his allies aren’t going to let it go easily.”
Republican David Young has represented the 16 southwest Iowa counties in the third congressional district for nearly four years. Cindy Axne, a small businessperson from West Des Moines, defeated two competitors to win the Democratic Party’s nomination in the district. This is her first run for public office.
To illustrate the stakes in this race, some big name backers have campaigned for these candidates. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump have been in the district.
“Remember this,” Trump said at a rally in Council Bluffs in October, “a vote for David is a vote for me and our agenda to ‘Make America Great Again.'”
California Senator Kamala Harris headlined a rally at a community college for Axne.
“I want to thank you for everything you’re going to do to help Cindy, because we need her to be in the United States Congress,” Harris said and Harris emphasized Axne could become the first congresswoman from Iowa.
The split between active Republicans and Democrats in the district is nearly dead even. There are four other candidates listed on the ballot. The Libertarian candidate is Bryan Jack Holder, who runs his family’s photography and videography business in Council Bluffs.
“The country has a lot of problems,” Holder said during a KMA Radio debate in early October. “…More of us need to get involved in trying to craft solutions that are amenable to everyone.”
Paul Knupp, a minister in Gladbrook, is the Green Party candidate in the third congressional district. Mark Elworth, Jr. has run in federal and Omaha races as a candidate with the “Legal Medical Now” party and he’s running in Iowa’s third district this year. Joe Grandanette of Des Moines is an independent candidate in the district.