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September 30, 2014

Posts in "Iowa Senate"

September 16, 2014

NRSC Ad Hits Bruce Braley on Congressional Attendance (Video)

NRSC Ad Hits Bruce Braley on Congressional Attendance (Video)

Braley is the target of another NRSC ad. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching a TV ad in Iowa Tuesday that criticizes Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley for his attendance record on the House floor and a committee he served.

The NRSC Independent Expenditure Committee ad, shared first with CQ Roll Call, is at least the second one to slam Braley for missing a significant number of committee hearings.

This one hits the congressman for his time on the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, as well as for missing more votes than any other Iowa member. A previous spot from GOP-aligned Freedom Partners hit Braley for skipping Veterans’ Affairs hearings. Full story

September 10, 2014

DSCC Blasts Ernst on Social Security Comments in New Ad

DSCC Blasts Ernst on Social Security Comments in New Ad

Ernst is in one of the cycle's tightest races. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going up with a new ad in Iowa attacking Republican Joni Ernst for talking about privatizing social security and tying her to the Koch Brothers.

Ernst faces Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in one of the most competitive races this cycle. The two are vying for the open seat currently held by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

In the ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, a male narrator attacks Ernst as “too extreme.”

“Joni Ernst is talking about privatizing Social Security. Risking it on the stock market,” the narrator says. Full story

September 9, 2014

John McCain Boosts Joni Ernst in Iowa Senate Race

John McCain Boosts Joni Ernst in Iowa Senate Race

McCain is an Arizona Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted a mailer from a group supporting Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, for a “disgusting attack” on Republican Joni Ernst’s military service.

Braley and Ernst are running for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat in one of the cycle’s most competitive contests. The mailer, from NextGen Climate, an environment-focused group backed by Tom Steyer, says, “Joni Ernst is putting her big oil backers ahead of national security.”

“American troops have spent years fighting terrorists overseas,” the mailer reads. “But politicians like Joni Ernst are undercutting that battle here at home.”

In a statement provided first to CQ Roll Call, McCain blasted the mailer, calling it “beyond offensive” to say that about Ernst, who is a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard and would be the first female combat veteran in the Senate, if elected. Full story

September 8, 2014

Democrat Leads in New Iowa Senate Race Poll

Democrat Leads in New Iowa Senate Race Poll

Braley is an Iowa Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll shows Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, has opened up a lead over his Republican opponent Joni Ernst in the battle for Iowa’s open Senate seat.

The Loras College poll of likely voters found Braley at 45.3 percent and Ernst at 40.5 percent. Just over 14 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The race for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat is one of the most hotly contested in the country, and the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates it as a Tossup. Senate Republicans must pick up a net of six seats this November to win control of that chamber, and Iowa plays a prominent part in the GOP’s math to accomplish that.

Full story

August 15, 2014

Joni Ernst Tells TIME She Was Sexually Harassed in the Military

Joni Ernst Tells TIME She Was Sexually Harassed in the Military

Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican Senate Candidate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst told TIME Friday that she was sexually harassed in the military. Separating herself from many of her fellow Republicans, Ernst also said she would support taking sexual assault cases out of the military chain of command.

Ernst, a 20-year veteran, said in the interview with TIME that there are situations when soldiers may be hesitant to report sexual harassment.

“I had comments, passes, things like that,” Ernst said. “These were some things where I was able to say stop and it simply stopped but there are other circumstances both for women and for men where they don’t stop and they may be afraid to report it.”

After reports of high levels of sexual assault in the military, lawmakers worked to address the issue last spring. A main point of contention was whether such cases should be handled by military officers. Full story

August 13, 2014

It’s the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Grassley hams it up in the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — At the Iowa State Fair, the walk from the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building to the swine barn should take about five minutes.

But with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, it takes 45.

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State FairSince the Republican was first elected to the Senate in 1980, Grassley, the Hawkeye State’s senior senator, has never been re-elected with less than 64 percent of the vote. At the Iowa State Fair, it is easy to see why.

On Friday, Grassley could not travel more than 10 feet without people stopping to shake his hand, get a picture or tell him how he great he is. GOP candidates agree with that sentiment: He was at the fair to campaign with Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for Senate to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

“I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is Joni Ernst, she’s running for Senate,” Grassley says, time and time again. Full story

August 12, 2014

In Iowa Senate Race, It’s Personality Versus Policy

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus Policy

Ernst embraces a young supporter at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Joni Ernst is a hugger.

At the Iowa State Fair, the GOP’s nominee to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is hugging people she knows, people she’s meeting for the first time, and people who are excited to see her. On Friday, Ernst stops to hug and chat up someone else while Iowa’s three most senior Republican state officials — Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey — wait for her at a podium 10 feet away.

In Iowa Senate Race, Its Personality Versus PolicyErnst’s strong suit as a Senate candidate is that people seem to want to hug her back.

“Joni, we love you, honey! Keep up the good work!” shouts a man as she walks the fair with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.

Six months ago, Ernst was a second-tier candidate with little money in a four-way Republican primary. Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley had cleared the field, raised money, and seemed likely to keep the seat in his party’s hands.

Then, Ernst made a splashy ad about castrating hogs and a video emerged of Braley derisively referring to Grassley as just “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” Suddenly, Ernst was a contender, and Braley was back on his heels, trying to apologize to the state’s beloved senior senator.

Ernst rode that momentum to a resounding primary victory two months later, and since then, the race has been counted among the most competitive of the cycle. Ernst could well be Iowa’s first female senator if the Hawkeye State voters prefer her farm girl charm over Braley’s record in Congress.

It’s why walking the fair with Braley and Ernst is like experiencing night and day.

Full story

June 23, 2014

Pick Your Clinton: Democrats Want Duo on Trail

Pick Your Clinton: Democrats Want Duo on Trail

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton are exciting Democrats who hope for their help in the midterm elections. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Democrats are gearing up to unleash the Clinton Dynasty.

They hope deploying the popular former White House occupants could help drum up money and hype in what could be a tough election year for the party. Democrats see the power couple as an asset, especially because Republicans have no singular unifying figure who can hit the trail.

But good thing there’s two of them.

Democratic operatives say each half of the Clinton duo appeals to different segments of the electorate — so assignments to races must be deliberate and strategic.

North of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi River is former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton territory — replete with voters who have already warmed to electing women to Congress. Former President Bill Clinton, party officials say, plays better in the South and Midwest, where he performed well with traditional Yellow Dog Democrats who relate to the party’s economic message but tend to be more conservative on social issues.

Together, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say there are few areas where the Clinton duo wouldn’t have a positive impact.

“Both Clintons can go into any competitive district in the country and be enormously helpful to Democratic candidates,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said. “The second Secretary Clinton is ready, we’d love to have her campaigning for House Democrats.”

Full story

June 18, 2014

Poll: Tight Iowa Senate Race

Poll: Tight Iowa Senate Race

A new poll shows Braley, above, in a tight race with Ernst for Senate in Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll showed Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, with a narrow lead, 44 percent to 40 percent, over his Republican opponent, state Sen. Joni Ernst, in the competitive race for Senate.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, released Wednesday morning, comes a couple weeks after Ernst’s resounding victory in the Republican primary that local operatives say put this race in play. Ernst and Braley are vying for the seat currently held by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who is retiring.  Full story

June 9, 2014

FreedomWorks Might Help Candidates They Opposed in 2014 Primaries

FreedomWorks Might Help Candidates They Opposed in 2014 Primaries

Freedomworks did not endorse Tillis, left, in the primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

FreedomWorks, a tea party-affiliated group that backed primary challengers to two GOP incumbents this cycle, is weighing whether to spend money to help the nominees they previously opposed.

The group, known for targeting Republican incumbents and establishment favorites with ground-game assistance for conservative candidates, is more closely tied with the tea party than the Republican Party.

But as FreedomWorks looks to the general election fights ahead, and with Republicans needing a six-seat net gain to win the Senate majority, the group is open to aiding candidates like North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — both of whom it actively worked against earlier this year.

“We’ve decided that Harry Reid’s not our friend,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in an interview Thursday. “Shockingly.” Full story

June 4, 2014

Joni Ernst Money Chase Starts Now (Updated)

Joni Ernst Money Chase Starts Now (Updated)

Braley won the Democratic nod for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:10 p.m. | State Sen. Joni Ernst posted a resounding victory Tuesday with 56 percent of the Republican primary vote, handily winning the GOP nod for Senate in Iowa.

Now Ernst must run up a different number: Her bottom line.

After a grueling and costly primary, Ernst — who already struggled with campaign fundraising — starts a general election campaign against a cash-flush Democratic nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley. Ernst’s primary bid was heavily boosted by third-party groups — support Republicans hope will resume as quickly as possible.

For example, less than 24 hours after the Republican’s win, Braley debuted a statewide television ad attacking her for being all talk about cutting spending without having the legislative record to back it up. Full story

June 3, 2014

Primary Results: Iowa Senate, House Races (Updated)

Primary Results: Iowa Senate, House Races (Updated)

Braley won the Democratic nod for Senate and will face Ernst. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated June 4, 1:00 a.m. and 5:12 a.m. | Joni Ernst has won the Republican nominee for Senate in Iowa, boosting the GOP’s hopes of picking up this a competitive, open seat in 2014.

Ernst, a state senator, scored a decisive victory over her three major opponents, leading with 53 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 10:52 p.m. She easily surpassed the 35 percent threshold she needed to win the nomination outright and avoid a convention. Full story

Primary Preview: 7 Things to Watch on Tuesday

Primary Preview: 7 Things to Watch on Tuesday

Cochran and his staff make their way to their bus after a tour of City Hall in Olive Branch, Miss. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tuesday is the busiest primary night of 2014, with voters heading to the polls in Alabama, California, Mississippi, Iowa, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota.

It’s a big night, with the tea party’s last chance to save face in the Mississippi Republican Senate primary, a close contest in Iowa’s Republican Senate primary, plus highly competitive House races in California, New Jersey, Iowa and Alabama.

(For a full list of the contests this cycle, check out Roll Call’s handy primary calendar, or our June cheat sheet.)

After the polls close, Roll Call’s Politics Team will have a live blog of the results. In the meantime, here are seven things to watch in Tuesday’s primaries:

Full story

June 1, 2014

Cheat Sheet: House and Senate Primaries in June

Cheat Sheet: House and Senate Primaries in June

McDaniel is challenging Cochran in the June primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After a relatively unsurprising series of primaries this month, June brings another collection of intraparty contests. More than half of the states will have selected their nominees by the end of the month.

Republicans will pick nominees in key Senate races in Mississippi, Iowa and South Dakota. Down the ballot, House primaries in several open seats will likely determine the future members of Congress from both parties.

Here is Roll Call’s comprehensive look at watch to watch in June. Bookmark this page, and check out our primary map for results from past primaries.

June 3
With primaries in eight states, this date marks the busiest night of the cycle.

Alabama: In the 6th District, seven Republicans are running in an open-seat race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus. This district is located in and around Birmingham. State Rep. Paul DeMarco is the front-runner, followed by Club for Growth-backed surgeon Chad Mathis and businessman Will Brooke. If no candidate garners at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will continue to a July 15 runoff. Polls close at 8 p.m. EST. (Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Safe Republican)

California: In this House race battleground, the top-two vote recipients, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Republicans will also pick a gubernatorial nominee who could have an impact down the ballot in November. Polls close at 11 p.m. EST. Here are the primaries to watch in the Golden State:

Full story

May 31, 2014

Iowa Senate Primary Becomes 2016 Battleground

Iowa Senate Primary Becomes 2016 Battleground

Perry supports a candidate for Senate in Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQRoll Call File Photo)

The campaign trail in Iowa this week might look a little familiar: As Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry stump around the state, former Sen. Rick Santorum’s face is plastered on the local airwaves.

The 2012 presidential primary is long gone, but a couple of the GOP’s future presidential hopefuls are using the Senate primary in the crucial nominating state to their advantage.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has backed the GOP front-runner, state Sen. Joni Ernst. Romney, who is not expected to run in 2016, has also given her his support. Meanwhile, Perry has endorsed former District Attorney Matt Whitaker. Santorum is supporting radio host Sam Clovis. A fourth candidate in the race, former energy executive Mark Jacobs, does not have any endorsements from likely presidential candidates.

The contest marks a rare opportunity for 2016 hopefuls: There hasn’t been an open-seat Senate race in the Hawkeye State in three decades. By backing a Senate candidate, presidential prospects can cement relationships with them and their staff that could be valuable next cycle — no matter if their chosen Republican wins or loses.

“The caucuses are an activist-driven process and activists put a premium on who stands with them,” said Republican radio host Steve Deace, who has endorsed Clovis.

“After all,” he added, “if you’re going to ask activists to stand with you, they’ll want to know if you stood with them.” Full story

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