DUBUQUE -- First District U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, will keep his seat for another term after besting Democrat Monica Vernon Tuesday night.
According to unofficial results, with 311 of 436 precincts reporting, Blum won 147,383 votes, or 54.0 percent, to Vernon’s 125,076 votes, or 45.8 percent. There were 509 write-in votes.
“This is really rewarding because they’ve been targeting us since January 2015,” Blum said to the crowd of more than 100 gathered at Blum’s victory event in his hometown of Dubuque.
He said he thought he’d be sent back because he’s a congressman who’s gone to Washington, D.C., and done what he’s said he was going to do: work on reforming Congress and balancing the budget.
Blum was also excited about the news of a potential, and likely, victory for Republicans across the board.
“This could turn out to be an amazing night for America, couldn't it?" Blum said as one of the first statements of his speech.
Iowa’s 1st District is one of the most Democratic congressional districts in the state, but the Dubuque businessman has twice beat the demographics to represent the 20 counties of northeastern Iowa. Blum won his first bid for the office by 2.2 points in 2014.
The mood was euphoric at Blum’s victory party, as the odds kept improving for both Blum and for the race for the White House. Cheers went up as swing state after swing state went for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The race initially looked good for Vernon, a former Cedar Rapids City Council member, but as results kept pouring in, her lead diminished. Nearly two hours after polls closed, the state was called for Trump and Blum continued to lead.
“We had a great run and I will continue to work on all of these issues,” Vernon told the crowd at her Cedar Rapids event after conceding to Blum.
Chants of Blum’s name and of “President Trump” broke out periodically through the night as the crowd waited for the candidate to take the stage. He finally spoke at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Dan Whetstone, of Cedar Rapids, has been a supporter of Blum since his first bid in 2012 when he lost the primary.
“He’s in Washington to clean it up,” Whetstone said, adding he was pleased with Blum’s first vote against then-House Speaker John Boehner.
Blum addressed that first vote, saying, “I’ve got news for them. John Boehner isn’t there anymore and I’m still standing.”
Sarah Tareen, who came from Virginia to support Blum’s bid, said she was “pleasantly not surprised” by Tuesday’s results, both in the 1st District and across the nation.
She wasn’t surprised either that the polling got the national race, as she saw that people who hadn’t voted before would turn out and those who had voted would sit out this race.
“We need a conservative in the White House,” Tareen said, adding, “It starts at the bottom of the ticket to the top of the ticket.”
Polls in Iowa’s 1st District had shown an uncertain race; some had Blum up by a healthy margin, while others showed Vernon slightly ahead.
Blum is a Dubuque businessman in his first term while Vernon is a former Cedar Rapids City Council member and founder of a consulting business.