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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Don't count on a "blue wave" to deliver

Keith Nichols: The Democrats’ greatest failure during Barack Obama’s presidency was not to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s fairness doctrine, which would have broken the back of right-wing hate radio. -promoted by Laura Belin

We don’t need to look very far back in U.S. history to see what would happen if Joe Biden wins the presidential election and Democrats somehow gain control of the Senate. 

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Hungry Chuck have you no Shame?

Reed gores Grassley

I admit I’ve been mildly pissed off ever since Dick Clark and John Culver were dismissed from public service back in the 80’s. Grassley’s odious “tax and spend liberal” mantra was simple but unfortunately too effective.

When Grassley decided to parrot Palin’s Death Panels lie during the ’10 cycle, I lost what little respect I might’ve had for this grim soul. His latest henchman role in the “screw obama’s SCOTUS picks” drama earns him 5 rotten tomatoes.

I have no problem with ‘true conservatives’ but guys like him, McConnell and others who essentially dissemble and make up stuff to suit the political moment make me ill. Apparently, Harry Reid (no Mr. firebrand) had enough and called him out today. Between Grassley, King and (unelected but embedded) Vanderplaats, I’m really starting to wonder about political sanity. Just don’t follow the advice of failed gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch and simmer down. It’s past time to wake up and fire up!

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The GOP is already at it again!

 Sure,  I agree that it needs “adjusting”.  But the GOP had 8 years to do anything at all,  and they did nothing.  Now they say they can do it better and with less cost?  AND with tax cuts (I think their answer to everything is tax cuts, and usually for just the top 1%).  I hate to say it, and I've said it almost daily for the past year or two,  but I am getting very tired of the GOPs dealings. 

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If BlueDogs Really Cared About Rural Healthcare...

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

The Blue Dogs that have fallen in with Mitch McConnell and the Insurance lobby in opposing a Public Option have said that they worry about health coverage in rural areas. They maintain their position comes from worry about small businesses and and rural areas. However, if they really cared about the problems in rural America, their position would be quite different.

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Is it time to focus on down-ticket races?

On Thursday at Open Left, Chris Bowers had this advice for the opposition in his very upbeat presidential forecast:

When it comes to offering concern troll advice to McCain and Republicans, I would recommend shutting down all paid media, and firing all campaign staff. McCain should take his remaining money, and distribute it to the RNC, NRCC and NRSC. Target a few close House and Senate seats to try and limit the damage, but otherwise save money for 2010 and 2012. When you are beaten, it is probably better to  withdraw, save what troops and resources you can, but live to fight another day.

Crooked Timber reported yesterday on the latest from the rumor mill:

So I hear (via a prominent member of the sane Republican faction) that the word on the right side of the street is that the Republican National Committee is about to pull the plug on its joint ads with the McCain campaign, and devote its resources instead to trying to save a couple of the senators who are at serious risk of losing their seats.

On one level, this strategy makes the most sense for the RNC. McCain is looking more and more unlikely to win 270 electoral votes, so helping him is probably not the best use of resources. I am told that the Republicans did this in September/October 1996 once it became clear that Bob Dole would lose to Bill Clinton.

Furthermore, Senate Republicans may well be leaning on the RNC to do more for their incumbents. There is real concern now that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could lose in Kentucky. That would be a terrible blow to the GOP caucus in the Senate (click the link to read why), and McConnell is more popular with his colleagues than McCain.

Sarah Palin’s recent travel schedule also suggests a focus on Congressional races. Last week she was in California (not a battleground state in the presidential race, but a place with several contested House seats) and in Omaha (where Nebraska’s second district is up for grabs). This weekend she is headed to West Virginia, where Shelley Moore Capito could lose in the second Congressional district. Capito is not only the sole Republican in the West Virginia delegation to Congress, she is the most likely Republican to win Robert Byrd’s Senate seat after he leaves the scene.

On the other hand, it would be devastating to Republican morale for the media to start reporting that the RNC had given up on McCain. I suspect that would depress GOP turnout in a lot of states, perhaps putting more House seats in play even as the RNC blankets the airwaves in behalf of a few vulnerable senators.

Here in Iowa, Republican incumbent Tom Latham is running lots of tv and radio ads in the fourth district (D+0), while 10 worst list honoree Steve King is not up on tv or radio and is barely campaigning in the fifth district (R+8). We could pick up both of these seats if expectations of an Obama landslide depress Republican turnout.

However the RNC resolves the competing demands for its resources, Sam Wang, a neurologist and political analyst who writes for the Princeton Election Consortium, thinks activists in both parties should forget about the presidential race. He argues that a “hard look at reality” suggests that Obama is going to win big, and further donations to his campaign will not affect the outcome. According to Wang, it makes more sense for activists to focus their energy and donations on the close Senate races right now.

I mostly agree, except that I think activists in battleground states (which Iowa is not) have to follow through to make sure Obama’s supporters turn out for him.

In all the states, we need to keep directing money and volunteer time to the state legislative races, which are important for many reasons.

What do you think?

UPDATE: A commenter at the Princeton Election Consortium site makes a good point:

I agree that supporting close Senate races should be primary, but continuing to contribute to the Presidential campaign isn’t useless. The margin of electoral-college victory, and even more of the popular vote, is important in defining the national sense of mandate for the victor. Politicians take notice too-as when Democrats voted for Reagan’s tax cuts (unfortunately) because of his victory margin. With a major economic rescue and reform needed, a sense of mandate is essential.

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