Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has challenged her Democratic opponent Theresa Greenfield to six debates ahead of November’s general election, the latest sign of what is expected to be a tight race in the Hawkeye State, The Hill reports.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) “is running for reelection in what will likely be one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate contests this year. But her campaign has shielded a key bit of financial information from voters and the public: who she’s paying to run her re-election effort, and how much,” the Daily Beast reports.
“Through a subtle accounting maneuver, Ernst’s campaign has for months avoided reporting the names of the campaign staffers on her payroll, how many of those staffers there are, and the extent of payments they’ve received. Instead, the campaign appears to have grouped all of its employees together in large lump-sum payments to a staffing and human resources company it uses to administer its payroll.”
A new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa finds Se. Joni Ernst (R) holds only a 47% to 41% lead over likely Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.
Ernst also has a 45% favorable and 43% unfavorable rating from Iowa voters.
Three times in a row yesterday, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) dodged questions about whether it’s appropriate for a president to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival, Iowa Starting Line reports.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), facing an increasingly tough reelection as President Trump’s approval tanks in Iowa, defended the whistleblower from Trump’s rage, NBC News reports.
Said Ernst: “Whistleblowers should be protected. I stand with Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said at a recent town hall that lawmakers should discuss fixing Social Security “behind closed doors,” the Washington Post reports.
Ernst, who is running for reelection in 2020, made the remarks Saturday, according to a video posted by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge.
Said Ernst: “I do think, as various parties and members of Congress, we need to sit down behind closed doors so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other, and just have an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining Social Security in the future.”
Washington Post: “On her way to capturing the Republican nomination in 2014, now-Sen. Joni Ernst released one of the most memorable ads of the cycle. In it, she bragged about having castrated hogs while growing up on an Iowa farm and pledged to use those pork-cutting skills to ‘make ’em squeal’ in Washington.”
“On Monday, a new Democratic challenger to Ernst sought to turn her words against her.”
Proclaims Theresa Greenfield (D) in a video announcing her 2020 Senate bid: “Listen folks, she didn’t castrate anyone. She cast a vote to let the corporate lobbyists keep feasting like hogs at the trough.”
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) will not run for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) in 2020, the Des Moines Register reports.
A new Des Moines Register poll finds 57% of Iowans say they approve of the job that Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is doing — a 10 percentage-point increase since September.
No other candidate, Republican or Democrat, has announced intentions to challenge Ernst in 2020.
Tom Vilsack (D) “downplayed speculation that he is considering whether to challenge Joni Ernst for her U.S. Senate seat in 2020,” the Des Moines Register reports.
Said Vilsack: “Right now, the focus needs to be, for me, on making sure the party is prepared to do its job, relative to the caucuses, and to make sure that we have the kind of debate within the Democratic Party that will help us have a viable candidate in 2020 for president.”
When asked if he was keeping the door open, he said: “The door’s not open, closed, shut — I don’t even know where the door is.”
The Iowa Starting Line reports on speculation that former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) may challenge Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) in 2020.
“Vilsack remains one of the most popular figures in Iowa politics, with extremely high ratings among Democrats based on polling from this past cycle. He won 49 Iowa counties in his first race in 1998 and 68 of them in 2002. Democrats long for the days where they could actually be competitive again in rural Iowa, and the former Secretary of Agriculture for Barack Obama might be the perfect person to do just that.”
“Vilsack would start with a great national fundraising network. A run by him would probably clear the field of any of the more traditional Democratic contenders, but that doesn’t mean he’d be totally unopposed. A proven winner, his run would turn Iowa into one of Democrats’ top pick-up targets in the country.”
A new Monmouth poll in Iowa shows Donald Trump with a 2-point lead over Hillary Clinton, 44% to 42%.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) has a 10 point lead over challenger Patty Judge (D), 52% to 42%.
“Democrats are increasingly laying a hammer to Sen. Chuck Grassley as they seek to unseat the Iowa Republican,” The Hill reports.
“Grassley’s Senate seat is widely handicapped as likely to stay in the GOP column, but Democrats believe the rise of Donald Trump and the fight over the Supreme Court are providing the perfect storm for taking out the six-term GOP incumbent.”
For members: The Consensus Senate Forecast
Politico: “Until now, little has been known about the secretive role played by the Kochs’ donors and operatives in boosting Ernst. The Koch network has focused primarily on policy fights, mostly leaving the spadework of recruiting and nurturing candidates to the party.”
“But the network’s financial support for Ernst ― detailed here for the first time ― offers the first signs of a move into GOP primaries. The Kochs and their allies are investing in a pipeline to identify, cultivate and finance business-oriented candidates from the local school board all the way to the White House, and Koch operatives are already looking for opportunities to challenge GOP incumbents deemed insufficiently hard-line in their opposition to government spending and corporate subsidies.”
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) “doesn’t plan to be caught flat-footed if he faces a competitive, expensive re-election battle in 2016,” Roll Call reports.
Said Grassley: “I suppose early on, you spend your time on funding the campaign more than on organization, probably working very closely with the NRSC, more so than I have in the past because of the sophistication of campaigning now and the massive amount of money you have to raise compared to what you used to have to have. The days of cheap campaigns are over.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), “one of the most high-profile politicians to come out of Iowa, has kept a decidedly low profile in her transition from little-known state senator to a U.S. senator recognized virtually everywhere she goes,” the Des Moines Register reports.
“After coming off one of the hottest campaigns of the 2014 elections, Ernst was bombarded with media requests from every Sunday political show, network and cable TV station and major newspaper — influential outlets that her campaign aides last spring would’ve begged to just know how to spell her name correctly. She steered clear of all national media requests.”