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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2018

Even if she wins, Finkenauer may not be youngest congresswoman

New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appears to have an easier path
By James Q. Lynch, Gazette Des Moines Bureau | Jun 28, 2018

CEDAR RAPIDS — State Rep. Abby Finkenauer was hoping a Democratic “blue wave” would carry her to victory in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District and make her the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

That’s looking less likely following an upset victory Tuesday in a New York primary. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated 20-year Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking member of the Democratic caucus and a possible successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

As with Finkenauer, Ocasio-Cortez is 28 — but she’s 75 days younger than the Dubuque state representative.

Both are younger than Republican Elise Stefanik, who was elected to the House from a New York congressional district at the age of 30.

Of course, if Finkenauer wins and Ocasio-Cortez loses, she would be the youngest woman elected to the House. Although polling in the 1st District shows Finkenauer to be competitive with two-term Republican Rep. Rod Blum, 63, also of Dubuque, the path to victory may be easier for Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez, a former bartender and campaign organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is running in a younger, more racially diverse district than the 20-county 1st District, which includes Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown.

Ocasio-Cortez argued that Crowley did not reflect the majority-minority population in the district. It’s 49 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black and 18 percent Asian, and 61 percent are 51 or younger.

That’s not the case in the 1st District, where nearly 89 percent of residents are white and about 47 percent are 52 or older.

And while Finkenauer faces a well-financed incumbent in a district that favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Cortez is facing a GOP opponent who doesn’t appear to have raised or spent more than $5,000 through early June in a district where Clinton carried with 78 percent of the vote.

Finkenauer hasn’t made age an issue other than to say she’s running “because it’s time for young progressives to step up.” She also frequently mentions that she still is paying on her college loans.

Her campaign did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

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