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CEDAR RAPIDS — In a “toss up” Eastern Iowa congressional race, Republican Ashley Hinson is being endorsed by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Hinson “a dynamic conservative leader, a serious legislator and a proven winner.”

He will lead a fundraiser for her Friday in Cedar Rapids before later heading to Des Moines for the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner. The dinner and program begin at 6 p.m. at the Downtown Marriott, 700 Grand Ave.

“Washington needs more people like Ashley who can roll up their sleeves and get to work on the serious problems facing our country,” Graham said in endorsing Hinson, a two-term Iowa House member.

Hinson is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer in the 1st District. Hinson welcomed support from Graham, who has become one of the GOP’s highest-polling figures, saying his “leadership in Washington is invaluable.”

“The outpouring of support from conservative leaders like Sen. Graham shows that our message of bringing common-sense solutions to Congress is gaining momentum,” Hinson said. “I look forward to working alongside him in Congress.”

Since launching her campaign, Hinson has established herself as one of the strongest U.S. House candidates in the country. National political forecasters believe the 1st District will be one of the most competitive races in 2020. The Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia Crystal Ball rate the race a “toss up.”

RollCall.com called Hinson, who represents a swing legislative district and was a television anchor in the Cedar Rapids-Dubuque-Waterloo market, “one the Republicans’ top recruits.”

“Republicans believe the presidential race and a competitive Senate race could drive out Trump voters in Iowa and help defeat Democrats like Finkenauer,” RollCall.com reported.

Donald Trump won the 1st District in 2016 by 3.5 percentage points. Finkenauer won in 2018 by 5.1 points.

“Finkenauer could still be tough to beat” because of her union support and cash on hand advantage, RollCall.com said.

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