Attack ads from the right and left keep coming in tight battle for Iowa's 1st

Published: Sep. 14, 2018 at 10:49 PM CDT
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As the election nears— it's become a war of labels in Iowa's 1st Congressional District. New ads from the left and right are trying to paint dishonest portraits of Republican Congressman Rod Blum and Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer.

"Rod Blum is the swamp." That's the tagline in a new ad by American Bridge, a Democratic PAC targeting incumbent Blum.

The social media attack, posted Friday, is going after the congressman's possible ethics violation for failing to disclose his stake in internet marketing business Tin Moon. The House Ethics Committee is investigating.

The ad labels Blum as a "poster boy of corruption." Blum called the missed disclosure an administrative oversight.

"Frankly, I think it's sad," said Andrew Bates, who does communications work for American Bridge. "This is not how someone behaves when they are doing something that they think is above board and clearly this is something that his own party thinks merits investigation."

The effort to discredit Blum is a direct appeal to the swing voters of Iowa's 1st.

Nearly 40% of those registered are unaffiliated-- no party. They're known to drastically change their minds, too. The 1st swung from supporting President Barack Obama in 2012 to President Donald Trump in 2016.

Iowa Republicans know the 1st's fickle nature too and have wasted no time going after Finkenauer, posting a new attack on social media, earlier this week. Their message was a consistent one, calling out the Democrat for collecting most of her individual campaign contributions from out of state.

Online media outlet Axios lists 82%, or about $911,000, of Finkenauer's funding coming from places other than Iowa. That's compared to about 28%, or $160,000, of Blum's money coming from national sources.

The Iowa GOP said recently in a statement: "Absent Abby won't be answering to Eastern Iowa - instead, she'll be paying back Nancy Pelosi and her other far-left donors to help implement their extreme agenda if given the chance."

Recent polling suggests a tight race between the two. An Emerson e-poll released Sunday shows Finkenauer with 43% of the vote. Blum with 38%. That is within the margin of error of plus or minus 6.4%. About 12% were listed as undecided.