Iowa

Axne spotlights differences on abortion in her bid to hold 3rd District seat

Congresswoman Cindy Axne walks through the art deco reception room of a distillery in the city of Osceola. A few dozen voters came out for a meeting Tuesday night.

As people get their drinks and sit around a table, Axne sets down a bottle of root beer.

A map of Iowa is shown, outlining the new congressional districts.

After redistribution, the 3rd Ward includes 21 wards, including metro Des Moines and much of south-central Iowa.

Clarke County is part of a portion of southern Iowa that is new to the redrawn 3rd Ward, which still includes Metro Des Moines.

Axne introduces herself by listing a list of legislative gains, including infrastructure funding for broadband rollout and bridge rebuilding, and a measure capping the cost of insulin and prescription drugs at Medicare.

“I’m sick of hearing that Iowans can’t afford to pay their electric bills and take their full insulin bottle,” Axne said.

In the closing argument of her blunt speech, Axne draws her attention to the US Supreme Court ruling that abolished federal protections for abortion rights.

“In the middle of summer, half this country woke up and their rights were taken away,” Axne said. “When you have a son and a daughter, suddenly your son had more rights than your daughter.

“(Republicans) call themselves the party of small government, but they’re in our bedrooms, they’re in our doctors’ offices, they’re everywhere.”

Rep. Cindy Axne answers voters' questions at a campaign meeting to be held at the Revelton Distillery in Osceola on October 11, 2022.

Rep. Cindy Axne answers voters’ questions at a campaign meeting to be held October 11 at the Revelton Distillery in Osceola.

Axne is the only Democrat representing Iowa in Washington, DC. She is running for a third term against Republican Zach Nunn as her party tries to retain its majority in the US House of Representatives.

Republicans favor other major issues in the midterms of 2022, such as the economy and inflation. But many Democrats see the decision to overthrow Roe v. Wade an issue that could prevent a Red Wave from reversing control of Congress.

Axne tries to gain momentum in the race by considering the decision as one of the key issues in the race.

For weeks, Axne’s campaign ran ad after ad, repeating a moment from a Republican primary debate in May.

Host Dave Price of WHO-TV in Des Moines asks candidates to raise their hands if they unanimously support abortion bans. In the clip, Nunn raises his hand in support of a total abortion ban.

In a debate with Axne, broadcast on KCCI-TV, Nunn was asked to clarify his position.

“I’m pro-life,” Nunn said. “I support the mother and the baby and we have repeatedly voted here in Iowa to make exceptions for the mother’s health, something my opponent has repeatedly lied about.”

At the Statehouse, Nunn has supported mandatory abortion waits. He also voted in favor of the Fetal Heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions in Iowa after six weeks, except for rape, incest and medical emergencies.

That law remains blocked in court, but attorneys for Governor Kim Reynolds are seeking its reinstatement.

Nunn said in the same debate that any future decisions on abortion limits should only be made at the state level, not in Congress.

“The reality is that here after the Dobbs case, it’s going back to the states under the 10th amendment and by default to us the Iowans,” Nunn said.
Axne supports federal action to protect abortion rights. She has twice voted to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act in the House of Representatives, which would prevent states from passing tough abortion laws.

“Because that state senator or state representative up in Sioux City has no right to tell a woman here in Osceola what to do with her health care decisions or how to run her family,” Axne said. “No one should be involved except women, their families and their doctors.”

State Senator Zach Nun, R-Bondurant, addresses supporters outside the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel on October 7, 2022.

State Senator Zach Nun, R-Bondurant, addresses supporters Oct. 7 outside the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel.

Abortion is an issue that goes against the political current of the Midterms.

According to Grand View University political science professor Bryan McQuide, this is so important not only to the outcome of the 3rd Circuit race, but also to deciding the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

McQuide said Axne is facing re-election. She’s running for office in a new district where voters don’t know her either. President Joe Biden’s low approval rating is draining energy from the Democratic base, and Republicans tend to show greater turnout in midterm elections.

“Republicans are very, very motivated to vote this year,” McQuide said. “They are angry about inflation. They’re mad at Biden. They are angry about the student loan announcement.”

Axne needs to increase Democrat turnout, particularly in Polk County, where she has her greatest advantage, to fill the gap Zach Nunn is likely to create in the rest of the 3rd Circuit. McQuide said abortion is an issue that could cause this.

“If Axne gets more Democratic voters to vote and remind them, ‘Hey, even if there’s no presidential election, this is really important for abortion rights,’ then she can survive that re-election,” he said.

At their Osceola meeting, Axne stressed that her fate in the 3rd District could help determine whether Democrats are capable of holding their narrow majority.

“We have four members who hold Republican seats,” she said. “This is an R+3 seat. I’m one of the four.”

If Democrats regain control of the House, Axne said their first priority is to get Roe v. to code Wade.

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