Axne wins tight rematch with Young

By: - November 4, 2020 1:19 am

Re-elected Congresswoman Cindy Axne address campaign workers after her opponent, Republican former Congressman David Young, conceded the race Tuesday night. (Screenshot of Axne campaign meeting)

Iowa Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne claimed victory over Republican David Young for a second time, according to unofficial results.

Axne unseated Young by 2 percentage points two years ago. On Tuesday, unofficial results suggested she won the rematch by 1.4 percentage points.

With all precincts reporting, unofficially Axne finished with 218,968 votes, and Young, 212,727. Young conceded early Wednesday morning.

Head shot of Cindy Axne
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is a Democrat who represents Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

“When I was elected, I had no idea the challenges the people of Iowa would face,” Axne told supporters via Zoom, noting the pandemic, the derecho, floods and economic instability. “We’ve felt the impact of this crisis together. And as I speak with you tonight, I feel obligated to remind you that this election doesn’t mark the end of the hard times we faced in Iowa. It can, however, mark the beginning of a new direction in the fight to get us back on track.”

Axne called for more action on the pandemic. “We as a nation must come together and continue to make sacrifices to save those at risk,” Axne said, calling for more mask-wearing and other practices to fight the pandemic. Axne also repeated her support for the Affordable Care Act, better broadband and infrastructure and job creation.

Axne thanked Young, who had called her moments before she addressed campaign workers.

Young addressed Republicans at a hotel in Des Moines. “The votes have been tallied and the people have spoken, and we respect the voice of the people,” Young said shortly after 11:30 p.m.

In an interview, Axne said her first order of business in a second term will be to address the pandemic. “We have to figure out a national approach,” the congresswoman said, adding that she has been pained by hearing of Iowans dying alone in hospitals, of disrupted family finances, and of fears that the coronavirus will spread even more. A national mask mandate would be a start, she added.

“I don’t understand how we became a country like this,” said Axne. “We have to do better to protect everybody.”

After watching returns that suggested Democrats were struggling to gain seats in other Iowa districts, Axne said it was a “godsmack of a night.” But she pledged to push for coalitions to address key issues after a campaign in which she regularly noted her bipartisan work at the Capitol.

Axne and Young had one of the more spirited contests. Axne repeatedly suggested that Young had voted to take away insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, an allegation Young repeatedly denied. Young pointed to an amendment he pushed to make sure coverage remains for those Iowans, and repeated that he supports the coverage now.

David Young is a Republican running in Iowa’s 3rd congressional District. (Photo courtesy of the David Young campaign)

However, Young objected to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for coverage, and said he wanted people to have more choice in coverage.

Young, on the other hand, hammered Axne for using surrogates to vote for her on occasion, as allowed by new House rules. Axne said she rarely missed votes, typically because of flight delays, and added that the surrogates always voted the way she instructed.

Axne had handily outperformed Young on fundraising, doubling his coffers at times.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.