Republicans from across the political spectrum are betting the farm that a farm girl can put Iowa’s Senate seat in play.
The oft-warring establishment and Tea Party wings of the party are on the same side ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, rallying behind Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R).
And it’s that near-unanimous chorus by Republicans from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney that could boost the Iowa National Guard lieutenant colonel over a trio of primary opponents to win the GOP nod for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) seat. With clever campaign ads and endorsements, Ernst is in the driver’s seat and could pull the 35 percent of the vote needed to win the nomination outright and avoid a party convention.
Recent polls show she’s closing in on that mark with a comfortable lead over big-spending businessman Mark Jacobs, former conservative radio host Sam Clovis and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker. The winner will face Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) this fall in what could be a pivotal race for Senate control.
“There’s no question Joni is cresting. I think she’s on pace to get to 39 or 40 percent,” said Jeff Boeyink, a former senior adviser to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) and an Ernst supporter. “The full spectrum of endorsements she’s received is something we haven’t see here for quite some time.”
Just two months ago, Ernst was the underdog against Jacobs, and Braley looked to have the clear edge in the general election. But her first ad — and a major gaffe from Braley — turned the race on its head.
Braley was caught on video at a fundraiser with Texas trial lawyers deriding Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as a “farmer from Iowa” who was less qualified than him to be on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The recording set off a furor that forced Braley to apologize and run ads to shore up his standing with farmers and other blue-collar workers.
Here’s a video accompanying the above article in which Cameron Joseph and Jessica Taylor discuss state of the Iowa race.
There’s plenty more to Joseph’s piece and you can read the whole thing here. Yesterday, a couple weeks after officially endorsing Joni Ernst, the Chamber of Commerce began running ads on her behalf in Iowa, punctuating her status as the one candidate who can unite the GOP in the Hawkeye state. It won’t be easy, but Joni Ernst has a good chance to beat Bruce Braley, the ambulance -chasing, farmer insulting lefty who’ll be her Democrat opponent in November. You can help Joni Ernst by supporting her campaign here.