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Who is Christina Bohannan? Meet the Democrat running for 1st Congressional District
Iowa City state representative seeks to unseat incumbent
By Sarah Watson - Quad City Times
Oct. 16, 2022 6:00 am, Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 8:44 am
Christina Bohannan begins many campaign stops with the same story.
Growing up in a town of about 700 in Florida in a trailer, she says the going got rough for her family when her dad, a construction worker, grew sick with emphysema and lost his health insurance.
"That's when I realize that sometimes bad things happen to good people," Bohannan told a group of Scott County Democrats at an outdoor August campaign stop.
She pledged to ensure the future of the country's social safety net — Medicare, Social Security and reducing the cost of public education — that she said helped give her a leg up from growing up in a trailer to becoming a law professor at the University of Iowa.
⧉ Related article: Who is Mariannette Miller-Meeks? Meet the Republican running to defend her seat in Congress
"I am now standing before you as a candidate for the United States Congress because I worked hard but because I got help," Bohannan told the group. "And that's what people around Iowa are asking for. They are not asking for handouts. They are asking to have good jobs so that they can work and to be rewarded for the hard work they do."
Bohannan is running to unseat Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks in what many election forecasters are predicting to be a competitive race in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District. Miller-Meeks won election in 2020 by just six votes after a recount in the 2nd District; the new district contains 16 of the 24 counties in the former 2nd.
The election is Nov. 8 and early voting begins Wednesday.
Bohannan has taught for more than 20 years as a professor at the UI, specializing in intellectual property law, the First Amendment and competition law. She also worked in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in the 1990s — her undergraduate degree is in environmental engineering.
In 2020, Bohannan unseated a 20-year Democrat incumbent, Vicki Lensing, in a primary to represent Iowa City in the Iowa House.
In an interview, Bohannan pointed to this as evidence she's willing to buck her party when she doesn't think it's working well.
"I ran against a 20-year incumbent of my own party when I thought that neither the Democrats or Republicans were doing enough," Bohannan said. "And I have disagreed with President (Joe) Biden on a number of issues. I have agreed with (former President Donald) Trump on some issues."
She said she disapproved of Biden’s handling of U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and disagreed with his recent decision to forgive some student loan debts, and agreed with Trump on prioritizing infrastructure and standing up to unfair trade practices with China.
On health care, Bohannan said she'd like to see a voluntary public option for health insurance while allowing people to keep their employer-provided insurance. She said she wants to expand a cap on insulin prices to everyone — not just those covered by Medicare.
The 20-county district includes population centers of Johnson County — where Bohannan resides and Scott County. It also covers Cedar, Clinton, Des Moines, Henry, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Mahaska, Marion, Muscatine, Van Buren, Warren and Washington.
Political forecasters have rated the race as competitive, and each candidate has attracted support from the national party. The district, along with Iowa's 2nd District to the north, was named to a target list by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Most recently, one forecaster — the Cook Political Report — tightened its forecast of the race to "leans Republican."
Registered active Democrats have a slight edge over Republicans in the district, with roughly 2,500 more active Democrats than Republicans as of October voter registration totals. But there is a substantial amount of voters registered as no-party.
City of residence: Iowa City
Occupation: state representative and University of Iowa law professor
Political experience: Bohannan unseated a 20-year incumbent Democrat for a spot in the Iowa House in 2020. At the UI of Iowa, Bohannan taught in areas of the First Amendment, competition law, and intellectual property law.
Campaign website: bohannanforcongress.com
Bohannan has said she supports legalizing abortion at the federal level before fetal viability — protections for the procedure that were laid out in Roe v. Wade, which U.S. Supreme Court overturned this summer.
Each candidate, along with Republicans and Democrats across the country, have tried to paint the other as extreme on abortion.
Miller-Meeks said during a 1st District debate that Democrats support legalizing abortion "up to and even after birth." Bohannan has reaffirmed she supports codifying Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion until viability outside the womb — between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Bohannan released an ad claiming Miller-Meeks supported ending all abortions without exceptions. Miller-Meeks co-sponsored the Life At Conception Act, which recognizes personhood from the moment of fertilization without explicit exceptions. But Miller-Meeks has said she supports banning abortions after 15 weeks and with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.
Bohannan has criticized Miller-Meeks for voting against the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act, which allows Medicare to negotiate for some prescription drugs costs and modestly reduces the deficit. The bill faced unanimous Republican opposition.
Miller-Meeks, in turn, has criticized Bohannan for not voting on a tax bill in the Iowa Legislature that over several years ends Iowa's progressive tax and replaces it with a 3.9 percent flat tax for all wage earners, and that includes eliminating state taxes on retirement income.
1st Congressional District
The breakdown of voter registration in Iowa's newly drawn 1st Congressional District as of October, according to the Iowa Secretary of State:
Democratic active voters: 161,018
Republican active voters: 158,501
No-party active voters: 150,570
Other active voters: 3,612
Democratic inactive voters: 31,886
Republican inactive voters: 19,936
No-party inactive voters: 51,573
Other inactive voters: 1,354