ELECTION 2020

Cindy Axne beats Young again to retain 3rd Congressional District seat

U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, left, D-Iowa, takes a selfie with Elliot Klimowski at Smokey Row Coffee in Des Moines, I
U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, left, D-Iowa, takes a selfie with Elliot Klimowski at Smokey Row Coffee in Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Democratic incumbent Axne faces Republican David Young and Libertarian Bryan Holder in the general election for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. (Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Des Moines Register via AP)

Democrat Rep. Cindy Axne held off a challenge from Republican David Young to retain her 3rd Congressional District seat.

Axne, of Des Moines, beat Young for the second time in as many tries on Tuesday — but it was closer this time. The incumbent netted 218,968 votes to Young’s 212,727 votes, according to unofficial results from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

“The difference in my race was I had been out there working for people in the 3rd District, doing what’s right for the 3rd District,” Axne said on election night. “That message came through.”

Axne said she’s worked during her first term to listen to the people of the district, take their concerns back to Washington and act on them.

“If there’s one thing I know about Iowa, they appreciate hard workers. They appreciate when someone says they’re going to do something and do it,” Axne said.

Axne told supporters during a Zoom campaign party, “This doesn’t mark the end of the hard times faced in Iowa, but it can mark the beginning as we continue to get back on track.”

Young, of Van Meter, held the seat for two terms from 2015 until 2018. Axne won the 2018 race with 175,642 votes to Young’s 167,933.

This year was much closer -- with Axne receiving 48.9% of the vote and Young garnering 47.5%.

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Bryan Jack Holder, a Libertarian from Council Bluffs, finished third in both of those races. Holder received 15,338 votes in the 2020 election, more than doubling his vote total of 7,267 in 2018.

The 3rd Congressional District includes Council Bluffs and much of southwest Iowa, along with Des Moines.

Axne led the polls for much of the race, including in the final days ahead of the election. The first-term representative campaigned on her work providing flood and COVID-19 relief to the district. Her campaign hammered Young for his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act — votes Axne said were a vote to remove protections for pre-existing conditions. Axne said instead the country should work to strengthen the ACA, working toward lower premiums and increase access to care.

The Axne campaign also tied Young to President Donald Trump. While in Congress, Young voted with the president 99% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

In seeking to regain the seat, Young touted the 2017 tax cuts, saying they provided middle class Iowans with relief that Axne would repeal. Young worked to tie Axne to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and said Democrats would push for government-run health care, which Young said would lead to higher taxes and rural hospital closures. Axne has voted with Pelosi 94% of the time, according to Propublica.

His campaign also targeted Axne for enlisting a House colleague to cast votes for her by proxy.

“This is obviously very misleading and it’s just a flat-out lie,” Axne told the Daily Nonpareil during a Council Bluffs campaign stop in late October. “Just like every other organization in this country, we’ve put policies in place to make sure we can conduct our work safely, remotely. Just because I’m not standing shoulder to shoulder with 500 people during a pandemic doesn’t mean I’m not working. To do a proxy vote, you have to follow it on the floor, you have to be a part of the debate, you have to make sure your vote is sent in and cast appropriately — in my name. My vote is always my vote.”

On election night, Axne said she’ll continue to fight for the district, including in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Iowans have great answers to the issues that we’re facing. And that’s why I go out and visit with them,” she said. “They’re the ones on the ground and know what the solutions look like.”

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