IA-Sen: Ernst feels like front-runner, preparing general election pivot

State Senator Joni Ernst told the Washington Post last week, “I consider myself the front-runner” for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. I agree, for reasons Bleeding Heartland discussed here–and that was before I knew Ernst had snagged one of the ultimate conservative establishment endorsements: from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In what must be a painful blow to Mark Jacobs, who has made business prowess a cornerstone of his Senate campaign, Chamber of Commerce National Political Director Rob Engstrom said in today’s press release,

“Joni understands that big government is an impediment to job creation, and that the best way to turn the economy around and create jobs is through pro-growth economic policies. The U.S Chamber is proud to stand with Joni and highlight her work removing regulatory barriers and encouraging competition in Iowa. In today’s economy, that’s the type of leadership we need in Washington.”

I don’t know what work they’re talking about–as a first-term state senator in the minority caucus, Ernst hasn’t been in a position to remove regulatory barriers or encourage competition. More likely, the Chamber of Commerce settled on Ernst as the most credible alternative to Jacobs.

Over at The Iowa Republican blog, Craig Robinson reviews recent tv ads and campaign spending in the IA-Sen primary. By June 3, Jacobs will have spent more than $1.4 million on broadcast and cable television, plus about $24,000 on radio spots. Based on ad time Ernst has reserved up to now, she will close out the primary race having spent just under $240,000 on broadcast and cable tv. She and her strategists must feel very confident; otherwise they would allocate more campaign funds ($427,201 cash on hand as of March 31) to paid media.

In their Washington Post piece about how Ernst’s debut tv ad “transformed Iowa’s U.S. Senate race,” Philip Rucker and Dan Balz quoted Jacobs supporters Nick Ryan and Doug Gross criticizing Ernst’s ads. Her media consultant Todd Harris shot back, “People should remember that Joni is a mom, a grandmother who has volunteered at a crisis hotline, and that part of her bio will be told.” Thanks for the preview of Ernst’s general election transformation: the pig castrating, Harley-riding, leather-wearing “farm girl” who’s going to “unload” on Obamacare will become a mom and grandmother who volunteered at a crisis hotline. I’m surprised anyone with experience comforting victims would use “Make ‘Em Squeal” as the main slogan on her t-shirts, bumper stickers and campaign bus. Many Americans instantly recognize that phrase from a rape scene in the movie “Deliverance.”

Any comments about the IA-Sen race are welcome in this thread.

P.S. – I think Balz and Rucker should have acknowledged the convenient timing of Ernst’s tiny ad buy for the “Squeal” spot. I find it hard to believe that a campaign endorsed by Mitt Romney didn’t get any advance warning from the Romney-connected outside groups America Rising and Priorities for Iowa, which dropped a bomb on Bruce Braley just as Ernst launched that attention-getting ad.

UPDATE: The National Rifle Association announced its endorsement of Ernst on May 13. The press release is after the jump.

Continue Reading...

NRA "blame everything but guns" links and discussion thread

Politicians and commentators continue to react to recent comments by National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. He broke the NRA’s weeklong silence following the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting with a December 21 speech (falsely billed as a “press conference”) and an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” two days later.

LaPierre rejected any new restrictions on guns or ammunition and blamed a wide range of cultural influences for mass shootings. He suggested that Congress should respond by funding armed security officers in every school in the country.

This thread is for any comments about the root causes of violence or policies that could prevent future gun-related tragedies. I’ve enclosed lots of relevant links and analysis after the jump.

Continue Reading...

New thread on Congressional races

This thread is for any comments about Congressional races you are following, whether in Iowa or in other states. Steve King and Christie Vilsack held their seventh (!) debate tonight, but I was unable to listen, because Windsor Heights holds trick-or-treating the night before Halloween.

Democrats are starting to talk about a net gain of U.S. Senate seats, but I am not that optimistic. While some races are trending toward the Democratic candidates, others where Democrats led last month are tightening (Virginia, Wisconsin).

To me, the most amazing development in a Congressional race is President Bill Clinton campaigning for Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and recording a television commercial for her. Bleeding Heartland readers who are old enough to remember 1990s politics, could you ever have believed that Bill Clinton would be considered an asset to a Democratic candidate in North Dakota a week before the election?  

Continue Reading...

U.S. House and Senate race discussion thread

It’s time for another discussion thread on any competitive U.S. House and Senate races. More detailed posts about the four Iowa Congressional districts are in progress, but after the jump I’ve posted the latest information on independent expenditures for and against the major-party candidates. Bleeding Heartland covered the third-quarter financial reports for the Iowa Congressional candidates here. Early voting totals for each of the four Congressional districts are here.

I’ve also added a few links on U.S. Senate races around the country. I’m amazed that Democrats still appear to be favorites to hold a small Senate majority. For me that has been one of the most surprising political stories of the year. Republicans could still win a majority, but they would have to run the table in the tossup races.

Continue Reading...
View More...