Nunn projected to win GOP 3rd Congressional District nod

By: - June 7, 2022 9:51 pm

Sen. Zach Nunn and Gov. Kim Reynolds help seal a crate of helmets to send to Ukraine on March 30, 2022. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

State Sen. Zach Nunn is the Republicans’ choice to face incumbent U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne in the upcoming 3rd Congressional District election, according to projections from The Associated Press.

Nunn had taken 67% of the primary vote with nearly three-quarters of the estimated total vote counted. Trailing him were Nicole Hasso with about 20% and Gary Leffler with 13%.

The Associated Press’ projected win for Nunn is based on its reporting of votes as they are tallied at county courthouses, not all of which has been reported to the state.

Nunn, 43, of Bondurant, has been a state senator since 2019 and previously served in the Iowa House from 2014 to 2018. He has touted his experience in the Legislature and as a combat veteran during the campaign.

Nunn served three overseas combat tours with the U.S. Air Force, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel, and is an intelligence squadron commander for the Iowa Air National Guard, according to his legislative biography. He is also a small business owner and a professor at Drake University.

“Winning with nearly 70% in a three-way primary says that there’s a mandate out there that people want somebody who’s going to be able to change Washington, D.C., and has a track record of executing on that and moving policy forward in a way that is not only bipartisan but has results, not just speeches,” Nunn told Iowa Capital Dispatch. “That’s what we intend to do.”

Nunn led in fundraising among the Republican candidates in the latest round of Federal Election Commission filings less than a month ago. As of May 18, he had received about $750,800 in contributions during the election cycle. Hasso had received about $602,000, and Leffler has not filed any FEC reports, which are required after a campaign raises or spends at least $5,000.

In February, Leffler told Bleeding Heartland that he had not reached the $5,000 threshold. Leffler has preferred to attend parades and other community events to promote his campaign, often with his patriotic tractor.

Nunn had also outspent Hasso, according to the FEC filings, about $658,600 to $501,700.

The newly drawn 3rd Congressional District covers parts of south central and western Iowa, including the Des Moines metro area. Previously, when Axne won her first two races, it stretched to the western border and included more-populous Pottawattamie County and Council Bluffs.

In 2018, Axne defeated two-term incumbent David Young, a Republican, with 49% of the vote to Young’s 47.5%. She defeated Young again in 2020, 48.9% to 47.6%.

The district is a key target for Republicans to flip in the November election.

Nunn said voters are looking for a leadership change because of inflation, gas prices, supply chain issues and criminal justice challenges, but that he doesn’t expect to coast to a win later this year.

“We’re leaving nothing to chance,” he said. “We understand going into this race that we’re the underdog, and we’re going to fight like a challenger.”

The state’s three other congressional districts do not have contested primaries. In the 1st District, which now encompasses much of southeast Iowa, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican who currently represents the 2nd District, will face state Rep. Christina Bohannan, a Democrat who is a law professor at the University of Iowa.

The 2nd District of northeast Iowa will feature a contest between Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Republican who currently represents the 1st District, and state Sen. Liz Mathis, a Democrat and former television journalist.

In the 4th District, which is mostly made up of the northwest quadrant but includes every county on the state’s western border, incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra, who defeated longtime Rep. Steve King in the last primary, faces challenger Ryan Melton, a Democrat who is an insurance supervisor in Story County.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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