Joni Ernst picks a strange fight with Theresa Greenfield

“You know, I haven’t heard Theresa Greenfield say one thing that Chuck Schumer hasn’t told her to say,” Senator Joni Ernst declared today on her Twitter feed. “And that’s not what Iowans expect in a leader.”

Several political reporters quickly noted the role reversal in Ernst’s call for six debates with her Democratic opponent. Usually challengers want more debates in order to raise their profiles before the general election. An incumbent making that demand is likely trailing, as the three most recent published polls on Iowa’s Senate race suggest.

Other endangered Republican senators have similarly called for frequent debates this fall, a sign of justified fear that President Donald Trump’s sinking approval will drag them down in November.

Another thing about Ernst’s taunt struck me as more strange, though. If she wants to make the election about who slavishly follows her party’s leader, Iowa’s junior senator is on exceptionally weak ground.

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Dark money stains the Senate primary

Susan Nelson spoke to Mike Franken about claims made in an attack ad funded by a group supporting Theresa Greenfield. -promoted by Laura Belin

The polling must be tightening up in the U.S. Senate primary.  A tsunami of dark money is washing up on our TV screens. Women Vote!, the political arm of EMILY’s List, is spending $1 million to attack Admiral Michael Franken on behalf of the Democratic establishment favorite, Theresa Greenfield.

Their ad claims that Mike Franken is a former Republican, an accusation that was flung at Elizabeth Warren every day in the 2020 primary campaign. If true, I am not so sure that would be a bad thing in a general election in Iowa, and it did not seem to hurt Warren. Republican support and donations have not hurt J.D. Scholten either. They also attack Franken for being a defense contractor, and accuse him of being a carpetbagger, an attack Warren received during her first Senate campaign.

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Letter from disappointed Iowa Democrats to Senator Chuck Schumer

Editor’s note from Laura Belin: The Senate Majority PAC, a super-PAC aligned with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has already spent nearly $7 million to promote Theresa Greenfield, one of four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Women Vote!, a super-PAC aligned with EMILY’s List, has spent nearly $1 million, mostly on advertising attacking Mike Franken, with a small buy of negative ads against Eddie Mauro. Both EMILY’s List and the DSCC endorsed Greenfield days after she launched her campaign in June 2019.

Sent Via Fax: 202-228-3027

May 29, 2020
Senator Chuck Schumer
322 Hart Senate Office
Washington, D.C. 20510
Re: Cease and Desist Interferences in Iowa U.S. Senate Primary Campaign

Dear Senator Schumer:

We write to you as long-time Iowa political activists, asking that you, and allied groups and individuals working in concert with you, cease and desist unwelcomed interferences in the Iowa Democratic Party’s primary campaign to nominate our candidate for the United States Senate seat now held by Republican Joni Ernst.

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Stacey Walker reluctantly rules out IA-Sen race

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker has ruled out running for U.S. Senate in 2020, he announced in a post published on his website on August 8. He made the “quite difficult decision” mainly because the Democratic primary “was already heavily skewed in favor of one candidate.”

I’ve read a lot of statements by politicians bowing out of a campaign. Few have spoken as frankly about their reasons as Walker.

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IA-Sen: Democratic establishment lining up behind Theresa Greenfield

Key individuals and Democratic-aligned organizations moved quickly this week to boost Theresa Greenfield, the third candidate to announce a challenge to U.S. Senator Joni Ernst. Both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, a major source of support for pro-choice Democratic women candidates, announced their support on June 6.

Greenfield’s campaign released its first list of prominent supporters on June 5, including former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, five current and two former state legislators, two former leaders of the Iowa Democratic Party, three local elected officials, and several longtime Democratic campaign hands.

Some candidates space out high-profile endorsements over a long period in order to general media coverage. An early show of organizational strength like this is typically aimed at discouraging other candidates from joining the field. Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker and former Congressional candidate J.D. Scholten have both said they may run for Senate.

Greenfield’s current competitors for the Democratic nomination are Kimberly Graham and Eddie Mauro. In a written statement following Greenfield’s June 3 launch, Mauro commented, “Iowans want a spirited primary not influenced by Washington insiders or the establishment, and deserve new progressive leadership in the United States Senate with a record of taking action and leading on progressive issues.” That statement and this week’s other relevant news releases are enclosed below.

UPDATE: U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand endorsed Greenfield on June 6 as well.

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