As we approach the home stretch of the 2014 midterm elections, Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst is locked in a super-tight battle for Iowa’s open Senate seat with Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. Recent polls show that the race is pretty much a toss-up, with Ernst holding a slight lead that is well within the margin of error. However, as Iowa has already started early voting, Braley has a 21-point lead with those who have already cast a vote. While Democrats in Iowa have typically run up decent leads in the past when it comes to early voting, it appears that this number, along with recent stories exposing Ernst’s potential corruption and extremist ideology, has the Ernst campaign freaked.
On Thursday, Rekha Basu, a columnist for the Des Moines Register took to her Facebook page to openly complain about Ernst canceling a scheduled meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board. Ernst’s campaign not only canceled the meeting with the Register, but also with two other Iowa newspapers. Typically, candidates make sure to meet with prominent local newspapers and TV stations prior to Election Day to answer questions and present their message to the voters. It also is potentially helpful when it comes to receiving endorsements and showing that they’re willing to engage the press.
Below is Basu’s Facebook post:
Basu wasn’t the only one from the Register to file a complaint. The paper’s opinion editor, Randy Evans, took to Twitter to register his complaint.
— Randy Evans (@DMRevans) October 23, 2014
Her decision to run and hide could be partially based on recent reports questioning Ernst’s ethics when she was Montgomery County auditor. It’s been discovered that her father’s construction company received over $200,000 in public contracts from the county during her tenure. However, it seems more likely that her sudden decision to back out of these meetings centers on a new story revealing statements she made in 2012 that compare unfavorably to those made by Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle during her failed 2010 campaign. In a video unearthed Wednesday evening, Ernst is seen making the following statement at an NRA rally in 2012:
“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere. But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
Below is video of Ernst’s comments, courtesy of FastNews:
Those comments are eerily reminiscent of Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” statement that eventually sunk her campaign and helped Democrats hold on to the Senate during the Tea Party wave of 2010. With that video floating out there and national media outlets running with it on Thursday morning, Ernst’s campaign decided to lock the Tea Party darling and Sarah Palin away and ride it out until Election Day. Their hope is that campaign ads and an energized conservative base will be enough to carry Ernst to a close victory. At this point, they just need to keep Ernst away from any microphones or reporters where she will invariably say something that will hurt her even further.
Ernst’s campaign is now planning on a super close race that may be decided by hundreds of votes. They’ve already contacted a number of counties in Iowa asking for materials related to recount procedures, as well as the names of ballot counters and any communications sent to Braley’s campaign. One county auditor said it seemed obvious the campaign was “gearing up for a recount.” Another county official said the amount of information Ernst’s campaign has demanded is taking previous time away from staff that they need to get ready for the upcoming election. He was unsure if his office could meet Ernst’s request prior to Election Day.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).