Looking for prominent Iowa Republicans ready to #NeverTrump (updated)

Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination for the presidency by winning yesterday’s Indiana primary, prompting Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus posted on Twitter, "we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton #NeverClinton." Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann weighed in a little later last night, "The only movement I’m a part of is the #NeverHillary movement #UnitedIowa."

Yet many lifelong Republicans have vowed not to vote for Trump under any circumstances. After the jump I’ve listed some well-known Iowa activists and strategists in that camp. I have not yet found any elected GOP official in Iowa willing to say #NeverTrump. Governor Terry Branstad and our state’s Republican U.S. Senators and House representatives are poised to support the nominee, despite Senator Joni Ernst’s discomfort with Trump’s way of expressing himself. I welcome tips on any GOP state lawmakers, school board, city, or county elected officials willing to go on record that they will not vote for Trump.

UPDATE: Hardin County Auditor Jessica Lara (R) confirmed on May 4 that she is "not ashamed" to say, "NEVER TRUMP." She further commented that she is "low key when it comes to politics" and did not endorse any candidate before the Iowa caucuses, adding that Trump "does not represent me or my values."

Senator Chuck Grassley, Ernst, and Representatives Steve King and David Young confirmed that they will support Trump. I’ve added below excerpts from the Des Moines Register story by Brianne Pfannenstiel and Matthew Patane.

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Iowa Congressional 1Q 2016 fundraising news roundup

You’d never guess Representative Steve King was facing a primary challenger backed by Iowans with deep pockets by looking at Federal Election Commission filings alone. King isn’t raising money like an incumbent who’s worried about getting re-elected, and his Republican opponent Rick Bertrand didn’t disclose any fundraising or spending.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from all the first quarter FEC reports from Iowa’s U.S. House candidates. One Democrat out-raised all four of our state’s incumbents, and another Democrat nearly did so.

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IA-01: Blum releases internal poll showing him ahead of Vernon, Murphy

First-term Representative Rod Blum, one of the top Democratic targets in this year’s U.S. House races, released partial results from an internal poll showing him with 12-point leads over either Pat Murphy or Monica Vernon, his two challengers in the first Congressional district. I enclose below the campaign’s statement, which says Blum leads Murphy by 45 percent to 33 percent and Vernon by 43 percent to 31 percent among 500 "likely voters" in IA-01. In the same survey, 43 percent of respondents said they approved of Blum’s work, while 27 percent disapproved.

It’s not clear what likely voter screen the polling co, inc used for this survey. Blum’s campaign has not responded to my request for further information, including the gender and partisan breakdown of the sample, the question wording, and what questions were asked before the ballot tests. Also unknown: whether this poll was in the field before or after Blum made headlines for wishing a recession on Washington, DC.

Former Iowa House Speaker Murphy was Blum’s general election opponent in 2014, and Cedar Rapids City Council member Vernon was the runner-up in that year’s five-way Democratic primary. Murphy takes higher name recognition into this year’s race, while Vernon has raised more funds and has more support among the establishment in Iowa and Washington, DC. This week, her campaign rolled out endorsements from State Senator Jeff Danielson and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes 75 House Democrats. Vernon’s campaign also announced that it brought in more than $335,000 during the first quarter of 2016 and had $774,000 cash on hand as of March 31. Bleeding Heartland will follow up on Iowa Congressional fundraising after the April 15 deadline for candidates to file reports with the Federal Election Commission; year-end numbers are here.

The 20 counties in IA-01 contain 160,106 active registered Democrats, 139,973 Republicans, and 181,173 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

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Unpacking Joni Ernst's mixed messages about Donald Trump

Senator Joni Ernst has consistently pledged to support the Republican presidential nominee, whether that person is Donald Trump or someone else. She told Erin Murphy last week that she hopes the eventual nominee will headline her biggest campaign event of the year, the second annual "Roast and Ride" this August.

But in an apparent rebuke to the GOP front-runnner, Ernst made a splash a few days ago by saying women should not put up with Trump’s "nonsense," and that she is "disappointed" by the "name calling and finger-pointing" dominating the Republican race for the presidency.

Looking more closely at what Ernst told WHO-TV’s Dave Price, I have trouble finding any coherence to her views on Trump.

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IA-01: Rod Blum distancing himself from Chuck Grassley on Supreme Court nominee? (updated)

First-term Representative Rod Blum received unflattering attention last week in Iowa and nationally for opining on social media that Washington, DC "needs a recession," because various construction projects in the city are "Being built on the backs of US taxpayers." Blum hasn’t backed down from those comments, despite intense criticism.

However, little-noticed remarks he made in his district over the weekend suggest that Blum wants to avoid political fallout from the ongoing controversy over the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.

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