US Senate

March 6th, 2014

Joni Ernst Under Attack for Missing Votes in the Iowa Senate.

State Senator Joni Ernst has done her fair share of criticizing her Republican opponents.  Now Ernst finds herself on the receiving end of a critique of her voting record in the Iowa Senate this year.  Rod Boshart, a statehouse reporter for Lee Newspapers, analyzed Ernst’s voting record in the Iowa Senate and found that she has missed 71 of the 95 votes in the chamber this year.

An examination of Ernst’s voting record by shows that Ernst has actually missed 73 of 105 votes this session.  That means Ernst missed 69.5 percent of the votes in the Iowa Senate.  She missed 18 votes on February 27 alone.  Ernst’s Facebook page shows that, while she wasn’t at the statehouse, she was in Des Moines that day.

Ernst attended the National Association of Woman Business Owners meeting that day and visited the Polk County Republican Women and Dallas County Central Committee meetings that night.  As the only elected official in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Ernst has discovered that being tethered to the Iowa Statehouse can be a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, Ernst can network with other legislators and lobbyists while in Des Moines, but missing votes for campaign events might not set well with some voters.  Just last week, State Representative Walt Rogers lamented the fact that his congressional campaign caused him to miss his first vote on the floor of the Iowa House since getting elected in 2010.  Rogers cited that fact when he announced that he was going to drop out of the 1st District Congressional race.

Iowans are used to politicians showing up for work every day.  U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley takes voting in the Senate very seriously.  According to Wikipedia, as of December 2013, Grassley has cast 6,806 consecutive roll call votes, placing him second behind the all-time consecutive vote record holder, Senator William Proxmire (D-Wis), who served in the Senate from 1957 to 1989.

In fact, Grassley has not missed a roll call vote since 1993, when he was touring Iowa with President Bill Clinton to survey flood damage. Since joining the U.S. Senate in 1981, Grassley has only missed 36 votes out of 11,403 votes.

Ernst is in the midst of a strong week for her campaign.  On Wednesday, Mitt Romney endorsed her candidacy, and a day earlier, she named David Oman as her finance chairman.

Both should help her raise money nationally, but Romney’s endorsement in a Republican primary might not carry much water.  That’s especially the case since Ernst has been selling herself as a strong conservative.  Romney’s endorsement muddies up that message, and Oman is known for his association with the largest federal pork project in the state’s history, an indoor rain forest that never materialized despite receiving millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

With the primary just three months away, what has been a quiet U.S. Senate primary is about to pretty spirited.

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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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