Why I'm running to be the best senator money can't buy

Kimberly Graham is the first declared Democratic challenger to U.S. Senator Joni Ernst. Her campaign website is kimberlyforiowa.com, and she’s on Facebook and Twitter @KimberlyforIowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

Our current junior senator ran on a promise to get rid of corruption in Washington and “make ‘em squeal,” but the only people squealing are Iowans harmed by her votes.



My name is Kimberly Graham. I’m running for the United States Senate. Here’s who I am, who I’m running for, and why:



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Whom does Joni Ernst really represent?

Cindy Garlock is an Indivisible activist in Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has earned a noteworthy distinction, Iowa media recently reported. One would hope it might be something that improved the lives of ordinary Iowans. But no. She is touting what her campaign is claiming as the largest first-quarter fundraising in an off-year election in the history of Iowa politics.

The $2.8 million cash on hand that she has amassed brought a few questions to my mind. In looking for answers, I found some things Iowans may be interested in knowing about our senator and where much of her campaign funding has come from.

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Cindy Axne to seek re-election in IA-03, won't challenge Joni Ernst

First-term U.S. Representative Cindy Axne will run for re-election in Iowa’s third Congressional district and won’t challenge U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, WHO-TV’s Dave Price was first to report on April 30.

Axne had been recruited for the Senate race, where Democrats have no declared candidates. Eddie Mauro is almost certain to run and has been discussing his plans with activists in numerous counties. Theresa Greenfield is often mentioned as a possible challenger to Ernst. Des Moines attorney Kimberly Graham is exploring a Senate campaign as well.

Earlier this year, many Democrats hoped former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Rita Hart might run for Senate, but she is far more likely to compete for the open U.S. House seat in Iowa’s second district.

A competitive GOP primary is likely in IA-03. Former two-term U.S. Representative David Young, whom Axne defeated last year, has been sounding out local Republicans about another campaign. After the jump I’ve posted an interactive map and table showing county-level results for Axne and Young.

State Senator Zach Nunn appears to be the top GOP recruit for IA-03. Bleeding Heartland speculated here on how he might match up against Axne. UPDATE: Nunn announced on May 6 a “listening tour” across the sixteen counties as he considers a Congressional campaign. He looks committed to me.

Conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart identified six other Republicans who are seriously considering this race. Three are from Council Bluffs, but a candidate from the Des Moines metro area would likely be better-positioned for the primary and general elections.

The third district is the most politically balanced of Iowa’s four Congressional districts. As of April 1, its sixteen counties contained 171,434 active registered Democrats, 170,607 Republicans, and 173,103 no-party voters. The Cook Political Report rates this district as a toss-up for 2020, while Sabato’s Crystal Ball puts it in the “lean Democratic” column, due to a higher share of college-educated voters and better performance for Fred Hubbell in the governor’s race, compared to the first Congressional district.

Bleeding Heartland has published county-level 2018 voting numbers for Congress and governor in each district; click through to see maps and tables for IA-01, IA-02, IA-03, and IA-04.

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Eddie Mauro considering challenge to Senator Joni Ernst in 2020 (updated)

CORRECTION: Speaking by phone on April 17, Mauro said he is considering a campaign for U.S. Senate but hasn’t decided to whether to run. He doesn’t have a time frame for making a final decision and needs to “make sure my family is on board” before weighing other factors, such as whether he “might be a viable candidate.”

Iowa Democrats may have their first candidate for the 2020 U.S. Senate race. Eddie Mauro told activists in Panora on April 16 that he will may run against first-term Republican Senator Joni Ernst, according to sources who attended the event. Guthrie County Democratic Party chair Kathy Miller told Bleeding Heartland that she invited Mauro to attend the central committee meeting after he called her on April 14 to discuss his plans.

Mauro is CEO of Des Moines-based insurance company UIG and director of Purify Project, which installs water systems in Africa. He previously ran for Iowa’s third Congressional district and finished second in the 2018 Democratic primary with 26.4 percent of the vote. Before that, he challenged State Representative Jo Oldson in the 2016 Democratic primary for Iowa House district 41. Mauro’s 2018 campaign website does not currently reference a U.S. Senate bid. I’m seeking comment from him and will update this post as needed.

Earlier this year, Mauro launched a political action committee called Midwest Victory PAC. The group’s goals include helping to defeat Ernst and support Democratic candidates for the Iowa House and Senate in 2020. Mauro was the founding chair of the Midwest Victory PAC and still holds that position, according to the PAC’s website. Once he formally declares his Senate candidacy, he will need to step aside from that role. Iowa law states that “A candidate for statewide or legislative office shall not establish, direct, or maintain a political committee.”

I enclose below additional background on Mauro and the Midwest Victory PAC.

UPDATE: After I corrected this post, several Democrats contacted me on April 17 to say that in their recent conversations with Mauro, he sounded like a definite candidate, not someone who was only considering the Senate race. A person who attended the Adair County Democratic Central Committee meeting on April 13 got the same impression from listening to Mauro. State Senator Claire Celsi said that last week, Mauro “told me he was running and asked for my support.” (Celsi represents Senate district 21, containing the Des Moines south side neighborhood where Mauro lives.)

While I understand that politicians prefer to control the timing of their rollout, prospective candidates who tell Democratic activists that they’re running should expect word to get around.

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