October 30, 2018

Two of the more brilliant political strategies we’ve covered in the last decade were the handiwork of Republican Congressman David Young, one of Iowa’s more skilled legislators.

First, in the 2014 GOP congressional primary in Iowa’s 3rd District, Young vaulted from fourth place to a convention win, the culmination of a pitch-perfect day for the Van Meter Republican. Then, Young, as a freshman-elect in Congress, navigated his way onto the Appropriations Committee, a plum gig for an incoming member with no seniority.

We’ve covered Young since his first campaign — he ran for the Senate (the seat now occupied by Sen. Joni Ernst) before recasting himself as a House candidate following long-time GOP Congressman Tom Latham’s retirement announcement.

Young is a tireless advocate for rural Iowa and an elected official who knows how to wield power wisely for actual results. He’s delivered on ethanol as a key player in President Donald Trump’s recent announcement of year-round E15, and he is a measured voice. Young knows both rural and urban parts of the 16-county 3rd District.

Young is responsive and effective on economic development and other matters of concern to rural Iowa.

He’s also a former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, and in that capacity, learned from one of the best on agricultural issues.

“He would joke to you that he mentored me for seven years,” Grassley said during a lunch meeting with this newspaper last week. “I think I’ve had some influence on him being a good congressman.”

We also trust Young. It’s a simple and important thing, this matter of trust, and the congressman has earned it.

For those reasons, this newspaper today endorses Congressman David Young for re-election to a third term in Congress.

We doubt there is anyone more informed on the 3rd District of Iowa than Young, who visits all 16 counties monthly.

“I think that sets a standard that’s pretty hard to overcome,” Grassley said. “It means that he knows who is his boss — the people of the district.”

Young has said he would be an independent voice for the district, a representative who would break with his own party, often earning criticism from it. He’s done just that on health care.

The Des Moines Register, which endorsed Young’s opponent, Cindy Axne, noted Young’s argument that he fought to protect people with pre-existing health conditions as Congress battled to change Obamacare.

We see great promise in Axne, a West Des Moines Democrat, just not as a member of Congress representing a large rural area. Axne’s orientation is that of a suburbanite, despite her attempts to make rural connections (it’s always an eye-rolling stretch when suburban Des Moines candidates bring up childhood memories on their grandparents’ family farms). While we don’t doubt that she cares about rural Iowans, her background hasn’t generated enough experience here for her to have anything resembling empathy with us.

Meanwhile, Young has a deep understanding of Des Moines and its metro area as well as some of Iowa’s smallest-population counties.

We also see him having the instinct to operate in what we hope is a growing middle ground in American politics.

We look for Congressman Young to mature and take on more bipartisan projects that deal even-handedly with farm issues, national defense and our debt.

Finally, keep in mind, Young inhabits a powerful perch on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee — a fact that is good for all Iowans, not just those in his district. It would be foolish for Iowans — whether they live in Des Moines or Panora — to forfeit that considerable influence in favor of a Democrat whose biggest selling point seems to be that she is angry with President Trump.