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March 28th, 2014

Ernst Goes Viral and AWOL – The Weekly Roundup

State Senator Joni Ernst had a heck of a week.  In the span of a few days she went from being an unknown legislator running for the U.S. Senate to being the topic of conversation around the state.  While her pig castration ad has made her the butt of a number of jokes nationally, in Iowa, the response has been largely positive, and the coverage of Ernst has been outstanding.

Seeing the reaction to the ad, the Ernst campaign is putting more money behind her Des Moines cable buy that will only run the ad on FOX News.  Ernst increased her media buy by a paltry $1000, increasing what she is spending from $7,012 to $8,012.  The Ernst campaign’s low-budget TV buy show that while the attention and recognition she received for the ad was tremendous, money is still a major factor for her in the race.  She needs to raise a lot of money between now and the June 3rd primary to be competitive.

Ernst Absent from the Iowa Senate Again – Misses Six More Votes

Apparently all the attention Ernst received from her new TV ad meant that she couldn’t get to the Iowa Senate.  Ernst missed another six votes on Wednesday, and eight more on Thursday.  Of the 175 record roll call votes in the Iowa Senate this year, Ernst has missed 106 of them.  That means she has been missed 60 percent of the votes.

The issue of Ernst missing votes is problematic because it will likely become an issue in the general election should she win the Republican primary.  To put Ernst’s time away from the Iowa Senate into perspective, says that Congressman Bruce Braley has only missed four votes since January.  Braley has missed 22 votes since announcing his campaign for the U.S. Senate, which is far fewer than Ernst.  If you don’t think Braley would make this an issue, you’re just fooling yourself.

I’m not one that gets all that worked up about missing votes.   Accomplishing your goals and objectives is what matters to me, and that is where I have a problem with Ernst.  On March 17th, Ernst participated in a press conference aimed at putting pressure on Senate Democrats to pass House File 2175, a bill that would outlaw the practice of web-cam abortions.  The press conference was a good idea, but the follow through and leadership on the issue has been lacking.

The attempts to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage in Iowa have shown us that press conferences alone are not going to get the job done.  Sometimes you need to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty.  What I want to know is, why aren’t Ernst and her Republican colleagues in the Senate pushing a discharge petition that would force the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote?  If Republicans can do this over the issue of marriage, I would surely hope they would do so on the issue of life.

I mean seriously, if State Senator Jack Hatch can make a last minute play to pass legislation to legalize medical marijuana, I would hope Republicans could find an avenue to pass a web-cam abortion ban.

The Des Moines Register Continues to do Iowa Democrats’ Bidding

Jennifer Jacobs, a Des Moines Register political reporter, has found a way to put the following paragraph, or one like it, in four different articles this week.

“On Monday, statistician Nate Silver wrote on his website that Iowa Democrats have a 75 percent probability of holding onto Harkin’s seat. Silver accurately predicted the outcome in every state in the 2012 presidential race.”

I think the initial story was fine, however she forgot to mention the fact that Silver is predicting a Republican landslide in U.S. Senate races this November.  I don’t know if Ms. Jacobs is just lazy or if something else is going on, but she though it was important to put a quip about Silver’s prediction in three other articles she wrote this week.

A story about hog castration and Joni Ernst getting mentioned on the Tonight Show, warranted a paragraph about Silver’s doomsday prediction for the Republican U.S. Senate race in Iowa.  An article about an ad buy featuring the stupid remarks Congressman Braley said about farmers also included Silver’s Iowa prediction.

I like Nate Silver’s work, but its not like he is making a prediction in March of 2014 and sticking with it.  He’s just like a weatherman saying that August in Iowa looks hot and humid, until August rolls around and he updates his forecast to take into account current weather patterns.

Silver’s 75 percent odds that Braley wins the open U.S. Senate seat in Iowa is based on the fact that Braley is a congressman, better known than all of his Republican opponents, and has raised a lot of money.  Silver also gave Braley the edge for his moderate voting record.  Um, excuse me Mr. Silver, I think you need to do some more research.

Oh, and if Braley is such a sure thing, why does the latest Rasmussen poll show him with just a three point lead over Mark Jacobs and Joni Ernst in a general election matchup?  Trust me, the second the GOP primary is in the books, the U.S. Senate race is going to substantially change.  You can read my thoughts about it by clicking here.

Speaking of Lazy Journalism

I think it’s kind of pathetic that Des Moines Register political writers are now getting comment for stories from former Register political columnist David Yepsen.  I like David, and I wish he was still writing his columns, but I think it says something when the paper he used to work for has to reach out to him for comment.  What does that say about his replacement?  If Yepsen’s opinions and knowledge of Iowa politics is so astute, then why did you let him walk?  I also wonder how tuned-in Yepsen is to what’s going on in Iowa on a daily basis since he spends most of his time in Southern Illinois.

Lt. Governor Reynolds for RPI Chair is a bad idea.

I understand how her name could have surfaced, but I think it’s a horrible idea.  First and foremost, she’s on the ballot in 2012.  Is the Lt. Governor going to be able to lay the smack down on Democrats like Staci Appel or Bruce Braley when she’s out campaigning for Governor Branstad’s reelection?  I doubt it.

The Republican Party of Iowa needs a chairperson who can devote their entire attention to rebuilding it into something useful.  Frankly, I think there will be a number of good names to choose from after the dust settles on primary day.  Republicans need to develop new leaders, not simply recycles the ones we already have.

Quick Hits

  • The home I was visiting in Johnston on Tuesday was “lit dropped” by Mark Jacobs’s U.S. Senate campaign.  It reminded me that there is so much more going on with various campaigns than one can see from a distance.  It also contradicts a common talking point from Jacobs’s primary opponents that he’s merely trying to buy the nomination.  Yes, the campaign is spending a lot of money, but they are working just as hard if not harder than the other campaigns.
  • Sam Clovis got a couple of nice endorsements this week, but they were overshadowed by Joni Ernst’s castration celebration.
  • Robert Cramer continues to be the only 3rd District Congressional Candidate on TV.  Frankly he’s the only one running like the primary is just a couple months away.
  • Ernst is racking up impressive endorsements.  It will be interesting to see if she can translate that into money.
  • Did you hear that Bruce Braley had a really bad week?
  • Some liberals are wondering about coordination between the Ernst campaign and the group that caught Braley Senator Grassley.
  • Speaking of Braley, he apologized to Grassley for his remark, but people are forgetting that this was his fundraising pitch to trial lawyers.  He didn’t just say this one time and get caught – I bet Braley has been calling Grassley a hick farmer for over a year now.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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