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Posts in "Iowa"
August 21, 2014
ADEL, Iowa – When David Young first became Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s chief of staff seven years ago, the senator sat him down for a talk. Young thought he was in for the riot act or a long list of rules.
Instead, as he tells it in the parking lot where people are shucking corn for the Adel Sweet Corn Festival, Iowa’s beloved senior senator recounted some advice he received when he first came to Washington.
“He said, ‘[whatever] your constituents want, anything and everything, you do it,’” Young recalls. “‘If they want you to cut their toenails, you cut their toenails.’”
A few weeks later, Young went out and bought enough toenail clippers for the entire staff as a reminder of their mission. Today, Young recounts that tale as a candidate for Iowa’s open 3rd District. Grassley tells the same story in Young’s first general election radio ad.
Young jokes that he probably needs to start carrying around toenail clippers. “Undoubtedly, someone’s going to come up to me and say, ‘Cut ‘em Dave,’” he jokes, saying he might also need “a 5 gallon Purell pump” to finish the job.
August 13, 2014
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.
Since 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
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.
“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.
August 6, 2014
Iowa Democrat Staci Appel is airing her first TV ad Wednesday in a highly targeted, open-seat race for House Democrats.
Appel is squaring off with Republican David Young, a former staffer for Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, in one of the most competitive House races. The two are vying for the seat of retiring GOP Rep. Tom Latham.
The ad, a positive bio spot provided first to CQ Roll Call, is the first from either major party nominee. It will run district-wide on cable and network TV, though the campaign did not provide the size of the buy.
June 18, 2014
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 4, 2014
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
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
May 31, 2014
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
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
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, 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
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
September 20, 2013
Sen. Charles E. Grassley said in a local television interview that he intends to seek a seventh Senate term in 2016.
“I am making plans to run for re-election,” the Republican told “Iowa Press,” a local public affairs show, per The Des Moines Register.
“I’m making plans, but it’s not taking much of my time. I’m concentrating on doing my job for Iowans, on being there when we’re in session, doing my oversight, doing my legislation, doing my town meetings in the 99 counties every year,”said Grassley, who turned 80 this week.
Although Grassley regularly wins re-election by 2-to-1 margins, Iowa is a perennial battleground state.
And before he can run for re-election, Iowans will go to the polls in 2014 to elect a successor to retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. That race is rated Lean Democrat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
June 26, 2013
Two former state GOP chairmen announced on Tuesday they formed a new Chicago-based venture, New Generation Public Affairs Inc.
Former Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn and former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady joined with Chicago-area businessman Bob Fitzsimmons to create the new firm that will, according to a release, “have a distinctive upper Midwest focus and initial offices in Chicago and Des Moines.”
Their announcement comes about a month after Brady resigned from his post following his declaration of support for same-sex marriage — an announcement that angered some local party members. After three productive years at the state party, Strawn left his role earlier this year in the midst of continued fallout from the GOP’s handling of the Iowa caucuses.
The three principals’ portfolios will include: Full story
May 4, 2013
Republican Rep. Steve King announced on Twitter late Friday night that he would not run for Senate:
I will not run for Senate in 2014. A Senate race takes me out of urgent battles in Congress that can't wait until 2015. Many thanks to all.— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) May 4, 2013