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