U.S. Rep. Cindy Axnewill seek reelection in Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, she announced Friday, officially closing the door on a possible run for governor in 2022.
Axne, a West Des Moines Democrat, previously ruled out running for the U.S. Senate,but shehad left open the possibility of running for governor.
She announced the news during a Friday morning taping of Iowa Press on Iowa PBS.
"Folks, I'm going to be running for the United States Congress here in Iowa's 3rd District," she said.
The news comes just days after Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said she would compete in the 1st District rather than stay in a newly redrawn 3rd District.
The pair of announcementshelpsolidify the field of candidates that will competein the 3rd District, which includes Des Moines and is expected to be among the most hotly contested races in the country.
More: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will run for reelection in new 1st Congressional District
Already, outside organizations like the National Republican Congressional Committee have been targeting Axne with attack ads as they try to unseat vulnerable Democrats.
Axne is one of only a handful of congressional Democrats in the country to win in a district Trump carried in 2020, though she won by a narrow margin. Axne beat Republican challenger David Young by just 1.4 percentage points, 49% to 47.6%. Libertarian candidate Bryan Holder earned about 3.4% of the votea share that some Republicans said undercut Young's effort.
This election cycle, Axne will compete in a new set of counties reorganized under the3rd District as a result of the state's redistricting process.
More: Iowa lawmakers accept second redistricting plan, setting up next decade of politics
Overall, the partisan makeup ofthe new district remainslargely unchanged, with Democrats continuing to account forabout 36% of registered voters and Republicans making up about 34%.
But some geographic shifts could make Axne's reelection campaign more difficult.
Polk and Dallas Counties, the two largest population centers, still anchor the 3rd District. But it loses several counties along the state's western border that Axne had focused on during her previous two terms while addressing severe flooding there, helping her to makeinroads with voters. Instead, the district gains several other rural counties that tend to favor Republicans that Axne has not campaigned in before.
Axne said her job is tomeet those new voters "and tell all those folks that I'm there for them and I've got their back."
"Its about taking my voice out to the people that I would be representing, hearing from them, listening to their concerns and talking with them about how Ive already been putting policy in place to benefit their lives and address those concerns," Axne said. "But also the policy that Im currently working on thats helping them."
Those issues include securing more money for biofuels, lowering prescription drug prices, improving mental health care for veterans and addressing the nation's supply chain problems.
Many of those subjects, Axne said, can be addressed through President Joe Biden's agenda, including a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that Biden plans to sign Monday and a $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" bill that would include money for child care, lower prescription drug prices and pay for education and climate change initiatives.
"I believe that once we get the infrastructure bill signed into law, the Build Back Better Act signed into law, next year folks are seeing expansion of those child care centers, theyre seeing more money in their pocket because of the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit," Axne said."I think about the folks here who are on insulin. Were going to cap it at $35 a month."
No Democrats have announced a challenge to Axne, but a handful of Republicans are competing in a primary election as the party seeks to unseat her.
Among them are state Sen. Zach Nunn of Bondurant, who currently leads the Republican field in fundraising. Nunn raised $281,905 in total receipts during the fundraising quarter that ended in October, giving him $213,779 in cash on hand.
Political newcomer Nicole Hassoof Johnston raised $170,863 and finishedthe quarter with $134,670 in the bank.
More: Why Iowa Democrat Cindy Axne voted for $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan
Retired State Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, a Council Bluffs resident, previously announced she would run in Iowas 3rd Congressional District. But as a result of redistricting, her home county of Pottawattamie now sits in the 4th District, which is more heavily conservative and represented by incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra.
Hanusa told the Des Moines Register she had been waiting on Miller-Meeks' decision before deciding what to do with her own campaign. Had Miller-Meeks chosen to compete in the 3rd District, Hanusa said she would not have challenged her.
"Obviously deference went to Mariannettes decision," Hanusa said. "So now that thats been made, I will look at the situation and consider everything.For right now, the campaigns still on."
Since launching her campaign in April, Hanusa has raised $103,619, including $65,826 in the third quarter. She has$44,718in the bank.
More: A year out, Iowa candidates raise money for 2022 elections; Finkenauer, Hinson rake in most
Gary Leffler, a Republican activist from West Des Moines, has filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, but he has not yet filed financial reports.
Axne goes into the race with about $1.6 million in cash on hand afterraising $757,831 during the third quarter.
Despite outraising her opponents,she knows she's facing an onslaught of ads from national Republican groups.
"I am the number one targeted race by the National Republican Campaign Committee," she said. "They want to take me out so that they can have the House."
In a sign of how competitive the race will be, state and national Republicans quickly issued statements criticizing Axne following her reelection announcement.
"Axne has spent the past two years hiding from Iowans and cozying up to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden," Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann said."Axne represents a continuation of Biden and Pelosi's disastrous agenda and Iowa Republicans are committed to fighting back to stop it."
Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
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Cindy Axne will run for reelection in Congress, closing the door on Iowa gubernatorial bid - Des Moines Register
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