Iowa approves new congressional map with 3 competitive districts

By | October 29, 2021

Iowa legislators approved a new congressional map Thursday that largely maintains the status quo and gives Republicans a solid chance at winning all four of the state’s congressional districts next year.

The proposal, crafted by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, includes three competitive districts that former President Donald Trump would have carried by a few points and one deep-red district in the northwest corner of the state. It will ensure that Iowa remains at the epicenter for the battle for control of the House.

The map easily passed both chambers of the state legislature on Thursday afternoon and heads now to GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds for her signature.

One wrinkle in the new map: GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne now live in the same district — though most of Miller-Meeks’ current territory is in a neighboring seat to the east. Both districts would be similarly competitive.

Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson remains in a swing seat in the state’s northeast corner. Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra has the safe GOP seat to the west of Hinson’s.

GOP state legislators rejected the nonpartisan agency’s first attempt at drawing the congressional map when they landed on a proposal that would likely doom Hinson by putting her home in a heavily Democratic seat but boosted Miller-Meeks with a deep red seat to the north. National Republicans were more pleased with the second attempt which brought more risk — three competitive seats — but a chance to control the entire delegation.

Iowa has been a rare recruiting bright spot for Democrats in a challenging election cycle. State Sen. Liz Mathis, a former TV anchor, is challenging Hinson, also a former TV anchor. And state Rep. Christina Bohannan has filed to take on Miller-Meeks. Republicans have a crowded field vying to take on Axne, including state Sen. Zach Nunn.

All three races will likely see hotly contested campaigns and millions of dollars in outside spending. Axne, Miller-Meeks and Hinson all had at least $1.4 million in their campaign accounts by the end of September.

Miller-Meeks, a doctor and veteran who made three unsuccessful runs for Congress before winning her seat in 2020 by just six votes, will have to decide soon whether she will run against Axne in the district containing her home, or the open seat, which includes much of her current turf.

In a statement after the map passed, Miller-Meeks reaffirmed that she will seek a second term next year but did not say where. “I will be evaluating the new districts to determine my next step, which I will be announcing shortly,” she said.

The filing deadline is March 18, 2022.