Welcome to my diary series titled Majority Savers! I will run a new article every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The goal of this series is to highlight races that may make or break our current slender majorities in Congress. That means I will start more with incumbent Senators and House members until some primary elections are settled. If I have time, I will expand it to governors as well in critical swing states.
If you want to find my previous entries in this series, I recommend following me or searching for #MajoritySavers as a tag!
I have six ground rules behind the philosophy of this series. I’d ask you all to respect them as best you can, because these are taking me quite a long time to write. Here are my ground rules.
We lost this district in 2020, along with the state of Iowa. While the former incumbent is not coming back, a challenger to Rep. Ashley Hinson has emerged in 2022 that may be able to wrest back control of a district trending away from us at this time. It will be a tough task, but State Sen. Liz Mathis is up to the feat of flipping back Iowa’s 2nd district for us!
Since Liz Mathis has been in the public eye for a lot longer than most challengers, she has more of a background that I can write. I’m only giving the highlights, however!
- She grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa, which means that she should be able to connect to Iowa farmers in ways that most candidates for the Democratic Party struggle to do in the current era. She saved up to go to college by cleaning and maintaining graveyards.
- She graduated from the University of Iowa as a journalist, and worked for TV stations in Cedar Rapids and in Waterloo. Never discount low info voters choosing someone they saw on TV. Problem is, Ashley Hinson also was a news anchor, so there’s no advantage there.
- She was elected in 2011 to the Iowa State Senate from the blue Cedar Rapids area, which means that she has run for politics before. It gives her a base of voters from which to expand to other areas of the district.
Liz Mathis does not have a DW Nominate score, since she is not in Congress at this time. Her issues page indicates that if elected, she’d be more moderate than most of our caucus. This is because she is running in a district that TFG won easily two times. You aren’t getting a liberal from such a district.
Health Care and Abortion: Mathis will protect the ACA from the ravages of the GQP, and is open to a public option to expand the ACA. She would allow Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate prescription drug prices as a means to lower costs of prescriptions. Finally, she supports the right to choose when that right is about to be stripped away from women seeking an abortion.
Climate Change: Mathis would support renewable energy through wind power, which is becoming a powerhouse for the state of Iowa. She also supports biodiesel and ethanol, which is required by the district even though it is a dead end clean energy wise. She also would increase disaster preparedness after multiple derechos flattened the state in recent years.
Agriculture: Mathis supports capital investments in the small farmers and businesses that cater to farmers, which are struggling to stay afloat as agriculture gets consolidated with each passing year. She supports the continuation of SNAP, continuing education for farmers at agricultural programs at the college level, and soil conservation programs to prevent another Dust Bowl from forming.
Recent Elections —
2020 President: TFG (R-inc) 51.2%, Joe Biden (D) 46.8%
2020 House: Ashley Hinson (R) 51.3%, Abby Finkenauer (D-inc) 48.7%
2022 Race Rating: Likely Republican
2022 PVI: R+4
This district has covered the northeastern corner of Iowa for some time now. It has been numbered the 1st district for a few redistricting cycles now, but the fact remains that this area has been friendlier to Republicans than other portions of the state of Iowa. Rep. Jim Nussle held this seat from 1990 to 2006, when he went for the governor chair in a bad year to abandon a swing district.
In 2006, a huge Democratic wave hit the state of Iowa, and this district elected a Democratic member of Congress for the first time in a long time. This coincided with a high water mark of Obama winning the state and the district twice, cushioning Rep. Bruce Braley from difficult elections. Braley only barely survived 2010 by a 49-48 margin, but otherwise he seemed entrenched.
2014 was a wake up call for the Democratic side, as Braley left the seat to get clobbered in the Senate election that year. The open seat was thought safe, but it turned out to be a narrow GQP win with Rep. Rod Blum, which foreshadowed TFG winning the district and the state twice very easily. Blum lasted until the 2018 blue wave, when Rep. Abby Finkenauer wrested control away for one term. Could it have been a last hurrah for Democratic candidates here?
I don’t wish to sell the task ahead of Liz Mathis short. She’s facing an incumbent in Rep. Ashley Hinson in a district TFG won twice in an environment that isn’t likely to be as favorable as 2018 was for us. Finally, the demographics of the state of Iowa don’t favor our current coalition, as it is too rural, too working class, too evangelical, and too white. However, Mathis is a talented candidate and will put up a fight!
Political Tour of the District
Iowa has a law where counties cannot be split during redistricting. This has led to the districts for the last two decades radiating from the corners of the state to the center of it. Iowa’s 2nd district from 2023-2033 will cover the northeastern quadrant, which includes Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo. There is a ton of rural farmland in between those places as well.
Here’s where this race will be won in the 2nd district.
- Linn County: This is the home base of Liz Mathis AND Rep. Ashley Hinson, and it is the Democratic anchor of the district. Cedar Rapids has to come through in a large way for Mathis in order to have a chance at this seat. Failure to beat Biden’s margins will spell certain defeat.
- Black Hawk County: This is the second Democratic anchor in the district, and Waterloo will be key to any chance of victory for Mathis. Mathis once again needs to outrun to Biden margins to have any shot, and will likely need to clear at least 55% of the vote here.
- Dubuque County: This county and city is the swing area of the district, and has enough population to make or break Mathis. She will definitely need to win this closely divided county if she wishes to dislodge Rep. Ashley Hinson come November.
Here’s where we need to keep the margins down, or we lose.
- Cerro Gordo and Winneshiek Counties: These two counties are now GQP leaning, but they have a history of being swing counties. While Mathis does not have to win either county, a poor showing in both counties will spell certain doom for her political prospects.
- Farm Country: Every other county in the district is now a GQP stronghold, with TFG getting 55% or more of the vote. While some of these counties voted for Obama twice, that is in the distant past politically, and Mathis needs to go where the votes are to win, and farm country ain’t it.
Activism — Help How You Can!
This contest is already gearing up to be an expensive race, with both Liz Mathis and Rep. Ashley Hinson posting strong fundraising in Quarter 1. Hinson raised more by getting $958k in her coffers. Mathis raised a competitive $715k as well, which isn’t bad for a challenger! This is a race where dark money is unlikely to be a factor, as the GQP goes on offense and Democrats defend their tiny majority.
In terms of cash on hand, Rep. Hinson again has an advantage, but not nearly as large as most incumbents. She has $1.78 MILLION cash on hand, while Liz Mathis has $1.35 MILLION cash on hand. This race is another longshot, but I’d be a bad person to dissuade people from donating if they choose to do so. Even at our nadir in 2014, we won some races like this unexpectedly!
DONATE TO LIZ MATHIS HERE
Iowa is home to three swing districts. While most of the attention is rightfully being spent on defending Rep. Cindy Axne, we should not neglect organizing and volunteering for Iowa’s 2nd district. If you are in the area that this district covers, head to https://act.lizmathis.com/a/volunteer in order to cavass, text bank, or do a million other things the campaign needs doing in order to be a successful one.
Liz Mathis has a good to great social media game, likely built up from being a news anchor and from being a State Senator. She has 10.2k followers on Twitter, which is a good haul for a challenger.
She also has a Facebook page at LizMathisIA and an Instagram page at lizmathisIA. Go ahead and check it out!
Iowa is a state that is slipping away from us, and that makes it difficult to be optimistic about the chances of Liz Mathis this year. However, giving up on this race when our House majority is a mere 4 seats is NOT an option, so Majority Savers thanks you for your support and for reading about our challenger for Iowa’s 2nd district, Liz Mathis!
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