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Party chief expects Democrats to turn Iowa blue 'from top to bottom'

(Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

In these “difficult and unusual times,” Iowa voters are going to turn to the Democratic Party for solutions to problems exacerbated by the coronavirus, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Mark Smith says.

The pandemic isn’t partisan, but has put “sharper point” on Republican failures on a wide range of issues from health care to trade to agriculture, Smith said Monday.

“I think that we are in a strong position to turn the state blue from top to bottom come November,” Smith said a day ahead of the Iowa primary election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday. To find your polling place, check here.

“Vice President Biden is very close in the polling to President Trump,” he said. “We have a competitive Senate race. We have great candidates running for the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate. And we have four strong congressional candidates. So I feel very good about where we’re at as a party.”

He downplayed Democrats’ concerns about outside influences in that Senate race. A group of party members wrote to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asking him to stop interfering in the primary. They objected to him backing Theresa Greenfield over Eddie Mauro, Kimberly Graham and Michael Franken.

Iowans make their own decisions, Smith said, and he has been working with all four candidates to make sure they have “fair and equal treatment” by the Iowa Democratic Party.

“I think that Iowans will be making these decisions based on the information that they received from a variety of sources and exercising their own judgment,” he said.

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He expects freshmen U.S. Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne in the 1st and 3rd districts, respectively, to win re-election. Both defeated Republican incumbents and have voter registration numbers on their side. Smith also expects Rita Hart to hold the 2nd District seat held by retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack.

Despite a lopsided Republican voter registration advantage in the 4th District — 41 percent to 26 percent, Smith predicted that Sioux City Democrat J.D. Scholten will win. He will face either Rep. Steve King for a second time or one of King’s four GOP challengers.

It won’t matter which Republican is on the ticket in November, Smith said, Scholten “is going to win regardless of who the Republicans put up against him.”

“I think we’ve seen time and time again that Iowans express their independence in voting, and that will be the case this November as well,” he said about Scholten’s chances to carry the 4th.

Voters are dissatisfied with GOP policies, he said, and are looking for strong leaders who will “take appropriate actions to get Iowa’s economy back on the right track, Iowans working and Iowans having the services that they need to have enjoyment of life.”

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

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