Axne, Young trade barbs over ads on health care, allegiance to party leaders

By: - September 9, 2020 11:12 am

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and her Republican challenger, David Young, trade accusations in TV ads. (Screen shots from Young campaign ad, top; Axne ad, bottom)

The political rematch between Democratic U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and the man she unseated two years ago, Republican David Young, has heated up in the past week in a series of accusations over ads.

Young’s team on Tuesday criticized Axne’s new ad, “Promised,” suggesting it revives distortions from the 2018 campaign. Axne defeated Young by 2 percentage points in 2018 as Democrats regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Cindy Axne and her campaign are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts,” Young campaign manager Andy Swanson said in a news release. “Axne is rehashing the same distortions and mistruths she did in the last election, while not being honest about her own record on standing up to her own party.” 

The ad opens with Axne standing on a sidewalk outside a string of businesses. 

“In a crisis, Iowans help each other,” Axne says in the ad. “They don’t put themselves first. Congressman David Young promised to protect Iowans with pre-existing conditions. When Washington Republicans threatened to pull support for his campaign, Young changed his tune. He put party loyalty ahead of Iowans. 

In the ad, Axne said she voted against “billions in unaccountable spending” supported by her Democratic colleagues, including $5 million for computers for members of Congress.

Swanson countered that Young has supported health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, highlighting one such case in his ad, “Alli.” He added that Young added “four layers of protection” for those with pre-existing conditions to the American Health Care Act. That legislation, an effort to retool Obamacare, passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

Swanson said Axne’s allegation that Young changed his vote when GOP leaders pulled their support for his 2018 campaign is off-base, too. “Axne is still obsessed with this conspiracy theory,” Swanson said.

Young voted for the health act after ensuring those with pre-existing conditions would be protected and because Iowa had lost Aetna and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield from the individual health insurance market as part of Obamacare, Swanson said.

As far as Axne’s claim of independence, Swanson said the first-term representative has voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 95% of the time. And while she didn’t support the $5 million for congressional computers, she did support spending CARES Act relief intended for small businesses to support the Kennedy Center ($25 million), the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities ($600 million) and the Institute of Museum and Library Science ($500 million), Swanson noted. 

A week ago, Axne spokesman Ian Mariani charged that the GOP backed misleading advertising about Axne to save Young from his own voting record. 

“David Young may be counting on his party bosses’ efforts to bail him out with misleading advertising that hide his record, but no amount of money can change the fact that he put his special interest and party bosses ahead of hardworking Iowans just three years ago,” Mariani said in a news release.

“The truth is while Cindy Axne has been working to lower the cost of health care, root out corruption and make sure our tax system helps the middle class instead of wealthy special interests, David Young consistently did the opposite in Washington,” Mariani wrote.

Axne noted her support of legislation to require disclosures of campaign donations from Super PACs and “dark money” groups. She also repeated her support of a proposed ban on members of Congress working as lobbyists after they leave office.  

Axne broke with her party to oppose a coronavirus aid package that included “aid for wealthy earners and special interest lobbying groups,” her team noted in an news release.

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