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September 3, 2014

Posts in "Iowa Senate"

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

May 28, 2014

Ad Deluge Intensifies in Final Week Before Iowa Senate Primary

Former energy executive Mark Jacobs has debuted two more ads in the final days before the GOP’s primary for Senate in Iowa.

Jacobs, a multimillionaire, has used his personal wealth to boost his campaign coffers, allowing him to spend more than his opponents. He faces State Sen. Joni Ernst, who is widely regarded as the front-runner, along with radio host Sam Clovis and former District Attorney Matt Whitaker.

Jacobs’ first new ad touts his position as an “outsider,” not a “Washington politician,” who has “real world, common-sense experience.”

The second trumpets his support for a balanced budget amendment, and attacks congress for “not doing the job they were elected to do.” Full story

May 27, 2014

Bruce Braley Touts Legal Career in New TV Ad (Updated)

Bruce Braley Touts Legal Career in New TV Ad (Updated)

Braley is running for Senate in Iowa. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 3:31 p.m. | Rep. Bruce Braley is up with a new ad for his Senate bid touting his career as a lawyer — a résumé that’s caused the Democrat some grief in his bid for the competitive, open seat in Iowa.

In his 30-second spot, the congressman casts his oft-maligned profession as one of fighting for people and helping them solve their problems.

“Equal justice under the law is what this country is built upon, is one of the things that motivated me to want to become a lawyer, and fight for people,” Braley says in the ad, which shows footage of him talking to a variety of people in Iowa.

“You have to get to know people to be an effective voice for what they care about,” he says. “I’ve spent my lifetime trying to be the voice for someone who has a problem that they can’t solve by themselves.” Full story

May 22, 2014

Tom Steyer’s 2014 Targets Start With Four Senate Races

Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ financial answer to the Koch brothers, has set his sights on specific Senate and gubernatorial races to spend the $100 million he’s earmarked for the midterm elections.

His super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, aims to promote candidates who support action to mitigate the effects of climate change. It was active in last year’s elections for Virginia governor and a vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts.

The group has now targeted the competitive Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire, and the Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine gubernatorial contests. It will back the Democratic candidate in each case. Full story

May 21, 2014

Still No Clarity in Iowa Republican Senate Primary

Still No Clarity in Iowa Republican Senate Primary

Harkin's seat is an attractive pickup opportunity for Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With less than two weeks until Iowa’s congressional primaries, it’s still unclear whether a Republican Senate candidate can clear the 35 percent vote threshold needed to win the nomination outright.

In an attractive pickup opportunity for national Republicans, there are four major candidates seeking the nomination for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. The leading contenders are state Sen. Joni Ernst, who has the tacit support of the governor and earned national attention with an ad about castrating hogs, and Mark Jacobs, a self-funding former energy executive. Radio host Sam Clovis and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker round out the top four.

A recent poll found Ernst with 31 percent support — in the lead and within striking distance of the nomination. But Jacobs, who outspent Ernst by more than 5 to 1 through March, has dominated his opponents on the airwaves, and a potential late surge by Clovis could spread the vote around and force the nomination process to a convention, where anything can happen.

“I think either Ernst or Jacobs will get to 35 percent,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party and editor-in-chief of The Iowa Republican politics blog. But, he continued, “Clovis has plenty of room to grow” and can improve his standing if he is more “aggressive in drawing distinctions between himself and the other candidates” and seizing the “social conservative mantle.” Full story

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