GOP outspending Democrats in almost every competitive Iowa Senate race

As was the case two years ago, Democratic candidates are at a financial disadvantage in almost all of the Iowa Senate districts both parties are targeting.

The disparity adds another challenge to a party already facing a difficult path to gaining ground in the upper chamber. Republicans currently hold 29 of the 50 Senate seats and are guaranteed to pick up the district independent Senator David Johnson is vacating.

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Big test coming up for Joni Ernst (updated)

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has cultivated an image as a politician who is deeply concerned about sexual assault. Her official website has a whole page dedicated to the issue.

But as Senate Republicans appear ready to ram through Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation for the U.S. Supreme Court, Ernst has not demanded any thorough investigation of the allegations against Kavanaugh. On the contrary: she is ready to reward his aggressive, evasive performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee with a lifetime seat on the high court.

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Interview: What drives Senator Jeff Merkley

“We need to use every tool we have to reclaim our country,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley told me during his latest visit to Des Moines. “We are at the verge of a tipping point, and maybe we’re almost past it, in which the power of the mega-wealthy is so profound that we can’t tip the balance back in to we the people.”

The senator from Oregon spent much of Labor Day weekend in central Iowa supporting Democratic candidates for the state legislature. His fifth trip here since the 2016 election won’t be his last: he will be a featured speaker at the Polk County Steak Fry later this month. During our September 2 interview, I asked Merkley about the most important matters pending in the U.S. Senate, prospects for Democrats in November, and his possible presidential candidacy.

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Grassley, Ernst join new GOP shell game on pre-existing conditions

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are among ten U.S. Senate Republicans co-sponsoring a bill that purports to protect health insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

There’s a catch: the legislation would require insurance companies to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions, but it wouldn’t stop them from excluding coverage for those very conditions.

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Iowa Republicans blame horrific murder on immigration policy (updated)

The monthlong search for University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts ended in heartbreak today. Cristhian Bahena Rivera led investigators to the victim’s body in a cornfield. He reportedly confessed to the crime and faces first-degree murder charges.

Because Rivera is from Mexico and has been living in this country without authorization for several years, Iowa’s top Republican elected officials moved quickly to blame Tibbetts’ tragic death on immigration policy.

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