© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Many Of The Women Who Ran As Democrats This Election Flipped Republican Seats


And now a look at the record number of women candidates who ran in this election. Many of them were Democrats who flipped Republican House districts. Women changed two of Iowa's four congressional districts from red to blue. And one of them is 53-year-old small business owner Cindy Axne. She defeated Republican David Young in Iowa's 3rd Congressional District. That's in the southwest part of the state and includes the capital, Des Moines.

Cindy Axne joins us now. Congratulations.

CINDY AXNE: Thank you so much.

CHANG: So you're making some history here since you and your counterpart in Iowa's 1st Congressional District, Abby Finkenauer - you two are the first women that Iowa has ever sent to the House. That's got to feel kind of surreal.

AXNE: It feels fantastic. And as a matter of fact, I got off the phone with Abby about an hour ago. We're very excited to have this opportunity to represent Iowa and to certainly make history here. We've got the best people in the state, and we know that they deserve representation out in Congress that represents the values of the people that live here. And so we're excited. We're ready to put Iowa on the map with the first two female congress persons out of Iowa and ready to work together to make sure that we help people across the state and across the land.

CHANG: So tell me how you think you did it. How do you think you flipped your district from red to blue?

AXNE: Well, we have been working tirelessly for about 18 months getting out and talking with people across this district. We have 16 counties. We held meet and greets since I started this race in the primary, which was a seven-way primary to start out with. We knew that it was going to be important to get out and talk with as many Iowans as possible. And so we traveled the district holding events in every single county multiple times to listen to Iowans and their concerns. That enabled me to reach out...

CHANG: And what did you hear?

AXNE: Well, certainly the need for affordable, quality health care, of course a good paying job so our families aren't working two or three to make ends meet, the need to ensure that we've got resources to support our public school systems and certainly for policies to be put in place to help our rural communities thrive.

CHANG: I'm curious. How much do you think your victory was due to the number of Democrats in your district versus Republicans actually switching parties this time around?

AXNE: Well, we certainly were able to get out the vote and ensure that so many Democrats came to the ballot box. But I'll tell you what. We've had Republicans supporting this campaign since the primary. You know, there are great people like Dennis (ph), the produce king of Bedford who is in Taylor County who I met (laughter) when I went to go to a meet and greet down there. Republicans stopped by his roadside fruit stand, had a talk with him. And, you know, he messaged me a couple weeks later and said, I'm voting for you in this election; I'm voting for the rest of the Republicans, but I'm voting for you.

CHANG: Well, tell me about that. I mean, like, what were some of the reasons you heard from Republicans who wanted to vote Democrat?

AXNE: I have a background working under both Democratic and Republican administrations here in Iowa helping to deliver better services and holding government accountable, being part of a team to find tens of millions of dollars in savings through efficiencies. I believe that that translated very well to independents and Republicans as somebody who understands that we have to make sure that we are fiscally responsible to be able to deliver appropriate services to the people here in this district. So I think they were happy to hear that from somebody who has experience.

CHANG: Iowa of course is a big farming state. I'm curious if you heard from farmers who have been frustrated by the president's trade war with China. The state exports a lot of agricultural products to China after all.

AXNE: Absolutely. And unfortunately this is not in any way, shape or form close to being done. We have already seen earlier this year - we have a big manufacturing sector as well, so earlier this year, we saw a hit on that in particular when it came to prices for steel and lumber. Recently of course with these agriculture trade wars, we're losing business.

CHANG: We are going to have to leave it there. Democrat Cindy Axne of Iowa, congratulations.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUFF DADDY'S "DR. BANARD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.