GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost

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The largest super PAC supporting House Republicans will spend a million dollars on a late advertisement meant to bolster Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), one of the most vulnerable incumbents facing reelection this year.
The Congressional Leadership Fund said Tuesday it would pay for advertising that paints state Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) as a pawn of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Career politician Abby Finkenauer is one of Iowa’s most liberal legislators, and Nancy Pelosi is backing her because she’d vote the same in Congress,” the ad says. “Abby Finkenauer is Nancy Pelosi’s dream. We can’t afford her in Washington.”
{mosads} The Congressional Leadership Fund, tied to House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP leadership, has poured more than $100 million into television and digital advertising in states across the country this year.
Blum’s short political career has been on the ropes as he seeks a third term in Congress.
Two public polls conducted in his eastern Iowa district since Labor Day have showed Finkenauer leading Blum by significant margins. The latest, from Siena College, showed Finkenauer ahead by a 52 percent to 37 percent margin.
President Trump won Blum’s district by about three percentage points in 2016. But Barack Obama won the district by nearly 20 points in both 2008 and 2012, underscoring its long history as a blue collar swing district in a state critical to winning the presidency.
“Rod Blum has been trying everything he can to distract from the ethics investigation into his shady business practices and his votes that hurt Iowans inCongress,” said Kate Waters, a spokeswoman for Finkenauer’s campaign.
“Now his buddy Paul Ryan and Washington Republicans have joined in on the act by pouring money into false attack ads.”
Republicans in recent weeks have been bolstered by surging poll numbers as their base voters tune in to the midterm elections.
Surveys in key Senate races in Tennessee and Texas show Republicans pulling ahead of competitive Democrats, and in Nevada and Arizona Republicans are more competitive than they had been after Labor Day.
That same enthusiasm — fed both by proximity to Election Day and by confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — has Republican groups more optimistic about some House districts on which they had given up.
The Congressional Leadership Fund earlier Tuesday rolled out an advertisement in Florida’s 27th district, a seat held by retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) that favored Hillary Clinton by a 20-point margin in 2016.
The advertisement is running on both English and Spanish-language television stations in Miami.
Polls in that race show television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar (R) running surprisingly close to Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services and the one-time president of the University of Miami.
Democrats need to gain a net of 23 seats to reclaim control of the House of Representatives.
Both Blum’s district and Ros-Lehtinen’s district were seen as virtual gimmes. Democrats remain the favorites to win both seats, but the late Republican plays indicate the Democratic path to a majority remains uncertain.
Tags Barack Obama Brett Kavanaugh Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Nancy Pelosi Paul Ryan

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