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2020 could be ‘record breaker’ for Iowa women running for federal office


This could be a record-breaking year for Iowa women in politics. Six weeks ahead of the November election, women make up the majority of candidates running for federal office.

According to the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, three of the five federal races in Iowa are between two women.

Republican incumbent Joni Ernst is competing against Theresa Greenfield (D) to represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate. In Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, Democrat Abby Finkenauer is defending her seat against Republican Ashley Hinson. Finally, Democrat Rita Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks are vying for the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd District.

Also running this year is Democrat Cindy Axne, who’s defending her 3rd District seat against a male challenger, Republican David Young, who held that seat from 2015 to 2019.

In 2014, Ernst became the first woman to represent Iowa in Washington, D.C. Four years later, Axne and Finkenauer were elected as the first women to represent Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives.

If Axne wins her race, Iowa will have a record-breaking four women serving in federal office.

“There aren’t as many women running for state office in Iowa as in 2018, but there are more running for federal office and winning,” Kelly Winfrey, coordinator of research and outreach at the Catt Center, said in a news release. “It is entirely possible that Iowa’s congressional delegation will be 80 percent female.”

Overall, there are fewer candidates running in federal and state legislative races in 2020 than in 2018, according to the Catt Center. There were 267 primary candidates in 2020, compared with 305 in 2018. Of those running in 2020, about 32% were women — about the same percentage as 2018.

Eighty-three women will appear on November ballots this year. That includes women running as Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates.

For more information on the gender makeup of primary and general election candidates, visit the Catt Center’s Women in Iowa Politics Database.

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