Finkenauer concedes to Hinson in the race to represent Iowa’s 1st District

By: - November 4, 2020 1:47 am

Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. (Photo submitted by Ashley Hinson campaign)

Republican challenger Ashley Hinson won the race to represent Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, beating the one-term incumbent, U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer.

Tuesday’s unofficial voting results had given Hinson 51.3% of the vote to Finkenauer’s 48.7% of the vote. The Associated Press didn’t call the race race in favor of Hinson until mid-morning Wednesday, and at noon Finkenauer conceded.

In a written statement, Finkenauer said she respected “our democratic process and the will of the voters” in Iowa’s 1st District.

“I love our state and our country, and I still believe in the promise of a democracy that represents and serves the interests of its constituents. We must never give up hope that we can be an Iowa and a country defined by compassion, empathy, grit and determination to get things done.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve Iowans in the statehouse and in Congress over these last six years. I’m thankful for the opportunity and trust Iowans have placed in me.”

Finkenauer said she looked forward to working with Hinson “on a transition that serves the people of northeast Iowa and ensures their needs are met.”

The 31-year-old Democrat has represented the northeast Iowa district since 2018. A native of Sherill, Iowa, she is a former state legislator who, along with fellow Democrat Cindy Axne, became the first women from Iowa elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Finkenauer had been leading Hinson in some recent polls by margins of up to 54% to 44%, but in the final Des Moines Register poll before Election Day, the numbers shifted dramatically. In that poll, which asked likely voters about party preference rather than specific candidates, district residents said they preferred a Republican candidate 51% to 36%.

Finkenauer served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019 before becoming one of the youngest women ever elected to the U.S. House.

Hinson worked as a broadcast journalist in Cedar Rapids before she was  elected to represent the 67th District in the Iowa House of Representatives in 2016. Her campaign got off to rocky start when the New York Times reported that op-eds published under Hinson’s name, as well as content on her campaign website, had been plagiarized. At the time, Hinson acknowledged the “mistake” and suggested her staff was to blame.

Finkenauer raised more than $4.9 million through Sept. 30, and spent $4.3 million. Hinson raised $4.3 million through Sept. 30, and spent $3.6 million.

Hinson received her B.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California before returning home to Iowa, where she grew up, to work as a reporter in Cedar Rapids.

Both candidates claimed to be a defender of “working families,” but clashed over the specifics. Finkenauer criticized Hinson for her support of the GOP’s successful effort in the Iowa House to roll back collective bargaining for public employees, saying the legislation harmed “folks who are just working their tails off, trying to provide for their families.” Hinson defended the legislation, calling it “a great bill to protect Iowa taxpayers and give them a seat at the table” in contract negotiations.

Iowa’s 1st Congressional District includes the cities of Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, and the counties of Mitchell, Jones, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Worth, Howard, Fayette, Linn, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Dubuque, Delaware, Jackson, Clayton, Benton, Iowa, Marshall, Tama, Poweshiek counties.

The district favored Democrat Barack Obama in his campaign for a second term as president, but Republican Donald Trump won the district in 2016. In 2018, Finkenauer defeated a Republican incumbent, Rod Blum, winning the race by 5 percentage points.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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