2018 ELECTION: 1ST DISTRICT

1st District Democrats celebrate election of their first congresswoman

Cliff Jette/The Gazette

Ten-year-old Cierra Smith of Cedar Rapids gets an autograph from U.S. Rep.-elect Abby Finkenauer during “Cue the Confetti: the 1st District Honors and Celebrates Abby Finkenauer” on Sunday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids. Finkenhauer is the first woman to be elected to represent the 1st Congressional District.
Cliff Jette/The Gazette Ten-year-old Cierra Smith of Cedar Rapids gets an autograph from U.S. Rep.-elect Abby Finkenauer during “Cue the Confetti: the 1st District Honors and Celebrates Abby Finkenauer” on Sunday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids. Finkenhauer is the first woman to be elected to represent the 1st Congressional District.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Northeast Iowans — at least Democrats in the 20-county 1st District — have regained their voice in the U.S. House.

And Sunday afternoon they celebrated that voice — Rep.-elect Abby Finkenauer, who will take her seat in the 116th Congress in January.

The election of the 29-year-old Dubuque state representative to Congress “represents this district regaining its voice,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said Sunday at a send-off for Finkenauer at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids.

After four years of Republican representation, he said, “It means that progressive values will once again have a voice in Washington from this district.”

Finkenauer defeated Rep. Rod Blum, a Dubuque Republican first elected in 2014, in the November midterm election.

It also means 2nd District Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack will have another ally in the Iowa congressional delegation.

“I’ve been so happy since Election Day in part because I got re-elected,” Loebsack said. “You can’t imagine what it’s like to be the only Democrat from Iowa and, not only that, but have two Republican senators. I was the lonely guy for all of these years.”

He called Finkenauer the “right person at the right time.”

“She’s got the heart for this, she’s got the guts for this, she’s young and has the energy for this, and she represents a new generation of Democrats we need in this state and this country,” Loebsack said.

Finkenauer thanked 1st Congressional District Democrats as well as interest groups such as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, unions, and Indivisible Iowa, a network of grass roots groups across Iowa, that came together to help her defeat Blum.

As a result, Finkenauer said to the applause of more than 200 1st District Democrats, “It is my honor to now stand here before you today as your next congresswoman — I’m sorry, as your first congresswoman.”

She also thanked her parents, Deb and Jerry Finkenauer, and joked that perhaps now they see their investment in a Newsweek subscription for their 10-year-old daughter “is finally paying off.”

Finkenauer talked about being part of the most diverse freshman class of House members. The incoming class has more women, more parents of young children, more people of color and sexual orientation than previous classes, she said.

After spending a couple of weeks in freshman orientation, however, Finkenauer is convinced that despite that diversity the new House members are “united in our common goals as Democrats and as Americans.”

Together they believe “public education is our great equalizer, that working families come first, that corruption and greed no longer belong in the halls of Congress, that health care should be affordable and accessible to every single American, that climate change is real and that we must think ahead for future generations and that our veterans are our heroes who deserve our respect and our support.”

“And, she added, “that we are the defenders of our democracy and bringing common sense and decency back to public service and our government again.”

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Finkenauer, who represented a Dubuque district in the Iowa House for four years, will be sworn in Jan. 3. as a member of Congress.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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