U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles as she greets supporters while arriving for a rally at Lincoln High School, Aug. 10, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

Pro-Clinton super PAC eyes competitive congressional races

Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) has generated quite a bit more attention than the usual congressional freshman. Less than a year into his career on Capitol Hill, the Iowa Republican complained that the economy was too good around the nation’s capital. “We need to cause a recession … in Washington DC,” Blum declared. In March, the congressman said it again.

In May, Blum accused the editor of an Iowa newspaper – which actually endorsed his candidacy – of looking at him incorrectly. “Well, you’re looking at me funny,” the lawmaker said during an interview. “I mean, I don’t appreciate that. I don’t appreciate that. That’s kinda condescending. I don’t appreciate it.” (The editor said he had no idea what the congressman was talking about.)

Now, however, Blum is receiving a very different kind of attention. The Washington Post reports today:
The super PAC aligned with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is expanding its target list into the House, beyond a pair of Senate races in which it is already tying Republicans to their presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

Priorities USA, an independent group designed primarily to elect Clinton, is now funding a 30-second ad in Iowa that has the double effect of hitting Trump for his controversial statements and tagging freshman Rep. Rod Blum (R) for his continued support of his party’s presidential nominee.
The fact that Priorities USA is taking an interest in a U.S. House race is itself unexpected. The super PAC’s raison d’etre was quite specific: helping Hillary Clinton get to the White House. But now that Clinton’s victory appears more likely, Priorities USA is expanding its focus, which in this case includes targeting an Iowa congressman who some Democrats call “Recession Rod.”

The contrast with the Trump campaign couldn’t be clearer. The Republican presidential nominee appears to have abandoned joint fundraising efforts with his party altogether, and has spent a fair amount of time in recent weeks blaming GOP leaders, most notably House Speaker Paul Ryan, for Trump’s campaign difficulties.

Clinton and her allies, meanwhile, are doing largely the opposite.

To be sure, for some in Democratic politics, Team Clinton isn’t doing enough. Priorities USA’s foray into some congressional races is likely to help, but many in the party want an even more ambitious push to improve Democrats’ chances of significant gains.

Still, as the 2016 race got underway in earnest, entities such as Priorities USA weren’t expected to focus down-ballot at all.

As for Iowa’s Rod Blum, the Iowa Republican barely won his 2014 race in one of the state’s most Democratic-leaning districts. It’s why he’s generally seen as one of the House’s more vulnerable incumbents in 2016.

Hillary Clinton and Iowa

Pro-Clinton super PAC eyes competitive congressional races