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March 21st, 2014

Tick-Tock: Just 75 Days Until the Primary – The Weekly Round Up

The June 3rd primary is only 75 days away, meaning that we are now officially in the final stretch of the primary campaign.  The U.S. Senate and 3rd Congressional District primaries are the most interesting.  In both instances, candidates need to move their numbers in an aggressive manner if they want to have a legitimate shot at winning the Republican nomination outright.

Let’s check in to see what the campaigns are up to.

U.S. Senate Race

Mark Jacobs:  Jacobs has either ramped up his TV spending as of late, or I’m just watching more Wheel of Fortune lately.  The Jacobs strategy has been apparent since before Christmas – use TV and radio ads to build statewide name recognition.  The polls seem to indicate it’s working, but the real question is, is it working fast enough to allow him to surpass the 35 percent threshold on primary night?  Jacobs’ ads make him out to be a likeable guy, but voters need more than that to convince them to give their support.

Joni Ernst: Ernst scored the endorsement of former State Senator Larry McKibben this week.  McKibben’s endorsement came on the heels of him being confirmed by the state senate for a full term as a member of the Board of Regents.  Ernst has racked up legislative endorsements by the truckload, but what her campaign really needs a truckload of money so she can get her message out the voters.  Ernst is getting some outside help with her campaign; ShePAC recently sent out a fundraising appeal that featured Ernst with five other women running for the U.S. Senate.

Matt Whitaker:  Whitaker continues to make the rounds at GOP gatherings and candidate forums across the state.  From all accounts, Whitaker does well when stacked up against his fellow Republican candidates, but he has yet show that his campaign has the financial resources to spread his message beyond those groups he’s able to stand in front of.  Still, I think Whitaker is one to keep an eye on over the final two months of the campaign.  He’s been frugal with the money he’s raised, which means he will be able to message to a larger audience when he decides to do so.

Sam Clovis:  Clovis is another cash-starved U.S. Senate candidate, but that’s not going to slow him down any.  According to Facebook, the Clovis campaign is opening a Sioux City office on Monday.  Clovis had a good one-liner this week.  In a National Federation of Independent Business candidate forum, Clovis responded to a question about how Democrat Congressman Bruce Braley would likely attack him by saying, “I’m short, I’m old and I’m ugly.”  That response got some good laughs and media coverage.

Third District Congressional Race

Monte Shaw: Shaw continues to build out his campaign apparatus.  On Thursday, he announced members of the Iowans for Shaw Agriculture Team.  The 3rd District race is fascinating for a number of reasons, but Shaw’s candidacy is particularly interesting because he’s a well known activists, has strong connections to the ag community, and after managing a number of high-profile campaigns, he knows exactly what he needs to be doing to win the nomination.

Robert Cramer: Cramer became the first Republican congressional candidate in the race to air a television ad. Before entering the race, Cramer told that he would be willing to spend some of his own money to get his campaign off the ground.  His ability to run TV ads gives him an advantage as it will help him become better known.  I like the spot.  It’s different than what we have seen before, but it does an excellent job of educating people on who Cramer is.

Matt Schultz: Rick Santorum is coming to Iowa next week to help Schultz raise money for his campaign.  Schultz is not known as a prolific fundraiser, so getting a helping hand from the guy who won the 2012 Iowa caucuses is a nice get for Schultz.  Schultz needs to prove in his first fundraising quarter than he can raise serious money.  If he can do that, then he’s going to be a real contender for the Republican nomination.

David Young: Running for the 3rd District Congressional seat hasn’t been any easier for Young that running for the U.S. Senate.  Still, the smaller geographical, contest gives him a much better chance of winning the Republican nomination than if he remained in the U.S. Senate race.  Young has been able to rack up some endorsements.  Senator Grassley’s grandson, State Representative Pat Grassley, endorsed Young’s congressional candidacy.  Pat Grassley night not live in the district, but the Grassley seal of approval isn’t going to hurt any.

Brad Zaun:  The Urbandale state senator is in the catbird seat in the 3rd District primary.  Many people might not acknowledge it, but Zaun has a huge advantage over his Republican opponents – name recognition. If you don’t think that matters, ask Dave Funk and Jim Gibbons who didn’t come close to touching Zaun in the 2010 primary.  While Zaun was roughed up in the general election in 2010, he sailed through his primary.  Zaun still needs to raise money and do all the things a good candidate needs to do, but the fact that there are five quality candidates in this race, only makes it that much more difficult to beat Zaun.

If any of the other candidates really want to beat Zaun in the primary, they are probably going to have to attack him.  The condensed 3rd District race was already difficult, but having to attack a candidate like Zaun in order to win is not going to be an easy task.  It’s not going to be cheap either.

The next 75 days will tell us what candidates are really in it to win it.  Time is of the essence, and only one candidate can win on primary night.  I expect to see sparks start flying any day 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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