Government

Marion's Hinson considering congressional bid

U.S. House District 1 seat now held by Finkenauer

State Rep. Ashley Hinson talks on the floor as they debate SF220 in the House Chambers of the Iowa Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2018. SF220, which passed the House 76-21, regulates automated traffic cameras. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
State Rep. Ashley Hinson talks on the floor as they debate SF220 in the House Chambers of the Iowa Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2018. SF220, which passed the House 76-21, regulates automated traffic cameras. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — State Rep. Ashley Hinson is within weeks of deciding whether to run for the U.S. House in Iowa’s 1st District in 2020.

“I’m definitely considering,” the Marion Republican said Monday. She has met with Republican congressional campaign leaders as well as New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who is making it a point to recruit female Republican candidates.

If she runs, Hinson would face freshman U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, a Dubuque Democrat, in a re-election campaign.

Finkenauer defeated two-term Republican Rep. Rod Blum in November with the support of several labor union, abortion rights groups and a host of liberal and progressive groups.

News that Hinson was exploring a congressional campaign broke last Friday when Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, dropped Hinson’s name as a potential candidate in the 20-county district that includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo-Cedar Falls and Dubuque.

“But it got people interested in learning about me as a person and what I have to offer,” Hinson said. “I’m getting words of encouragement as a result.”

She served with Finkenauer for one term in the Iowa House. They both were on the Transportation Committee, which Hinson now chairs.

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“Abby and I do have different views,” Hinson said. “As I look at her as my congresswoman, I hope she will operate differently. But I’m not 100 percent confident that she will based on my experience and how things played out at the Statehouse.”

Hinson didn’t elaborate, but said that if she runs she will “offer a clear alternative, a different way of doing business.”

As she considers her options, Hinson said she won’t be distracted from what she’s doing in Des Moines as this year’s legislative session enters its second week.

“I was just re-elected so I know I have a job to do,” she said.

Before running for office, Hinson, 35, was a morning anchor at Cedar Rapids station KCRG-TV. She and her husband, Matt, have two sons.

Before running for Congress, Finkenauer, 30, served two terms in the Iowa House, worked for a Dubuque-based development foundation and for Democrat campaigns and elected officials.

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

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