Government

Outside groups launch ad war in Iowa 1st District

Dems, Republicans pouring millions into Eastern Iowa attacks

U.S. Rep. Rod Blum talks with World War II veterans Clifford Higgins (left) and Bob Clark (right) as Blum serves chili to veterans and family members during lunch at the Freedom Foundation, 609 Center Point Rd NE, in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Rod Blum talks with World War II veterans Clifford Higgins (left) and Bob Clark (right) as Blum serves chili to veterans and family members during lunch at the Freedom Foundation, 609 Center Point Rd NE, in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

On the heels of an internal poll for U.S. Rep. Rod Blum showing a tight race with Democratic challenger state Rep. Abby Finkenauer, a new round of campaign ads have been launched in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

Blum, a Dubuque Republican, had been labeled the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the House and trailed Finkenauer by as much as 15 percentage points.

However, two Polling Company polls this month show Finkenauer’s leading by no more than 2 percentage points — 45 to 43 percent, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent, basically a dead heat.

Now the Congressional Leadership Fund, an independent super PAC supporting Republicans, is launching a $1 million ad campaign in the Cedar Rapids television market, which reaches 86 percent of the 20-county district that includes Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Waterloo-Cedar Falls and Marshalltown.

The ad labels Finkenauer as “one of Iowa’s most liberal legislators” and highlights her ties, which include financial support, to Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

That ad comes because Blum is trying to “distract from the ethics investigation into his shady business practices and his votes that hurt Iowans in Congress,” said Finkenauer spokeswoman Kate Waters. “Washington Republicans have joined in on the act by pouring money into false attack ads.”

But Blum campaign spokeswoman Alexah Rogge called the ad “quite accurate.”

“Most voters are unaware that when Abby actually did show up for work at the Statehouse, she essentially turned her vote over to leadership and voted with the party over 97 percent of the time,” she said.

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which earlier canceled advertising in the 1st District when Finkenauer had a comfortable lead in the polls, is back on the air with an ad highlighting the House Ethics Committee’s investigation into charges that Blum used taxpayer resources to promote his company that helps businesses hide negative information, such as FDA warnings about their products.

“Millionaire Rod Blum’s shady and unethical business practices go beyond his Tin Moon scandal,” said Rachel Irwin, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Investigation after investigation prove that Blum can’t be trusted to fight for Iowans and has no business representing them in Congress.”

Rogge, however, called it a “misleading attack ad” that “will put Washington, D.C., liberals over the $4 million mark for trying to buy a House seat in Iowa for Abby to make Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House again.”

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

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