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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Grassley, Ernst again vote for extreme budget, hope no one notices

For the second year in a row, Iowa’s U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted to advance a budget plan that would require massive cuts to most federal government programs in the coming decade. Senator Rand Paul’s plan was so extreme that only 22 Senate Republicans–less than half the GOP caucus–supported the motion to proceed with considering the legislation.

By not drawing attention to the June 3 vote, Iowa’s senators successfully kept the story out of the news in their home state.

It was another example of a phenomenon Bleeding Heartland has flagged before: if our members of Congress don’t brag about it in a press release or a conference call with reporters, Iowa newspaper readers and television viewers are unlikely ever to learn that it happened.

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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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Theresa Greenfield's former campaign manager provides a teachable moment

“My name is Noah Wasserman. I made a mistake that impacted your lives.”

A year after Theresa Greenfield failed to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot in Iowa’s third Congressional district, her former campaign manager apologized in an unprecedented full-page advertisement in the Sunday Des Moines Register.

Wasserman’s account of how he derailed a promising candidacy conveys valuable lessons not only for people working in politics, but for anyone who feels overwhelmed by tasks at hand.

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