WATERLOO, Iowa (Legal Newsline) – In a race that will help determine the majority in the U.S. Senate next year, Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst has managed to pull ahead of her Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, in funds raised and in the polls.
Combining the average of every major poll released in October, Real Clear Politics has Ernst as the favorite to win with a 2.5 percent lead over Braley.
The Republican: A web sensation. From talking about castrating hogs as a little girl to driving a motorcycle to a shooting range, Ernst’s 30-second spots have gone viral this election year, helping the little-known state legislator rise to national prominence.
The Democrat: Not a sure thing. Braley is willingly vacating his House seat in hopes of becoming Iowa’s next senator. However, his ambitions may force him out of Washington, temporarily at least, as every major poll shows him trailing his Republican rival.
Background: Mother. Soldier. Independent leader. The aforementioned words are plastered on Ernst’s tour bus and featured in every campaign ad she releases.
Background: Lawyer up! According to his online bio, Braley was shaped by his upbringing in a working family in rural Iowa. When he was a child, his father was severely injured in a fall at the grain elevator where he worked. Braley grew up to become a plaintiffs lawyer and is a former head of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.
Eyebrow-raiser: Gun nut or 2nd Amendment enthusiast? In May, Ernst created a media stir with a campaign ad featuring her shooting a gun.
Eyebrow-raiser: More lawyers, less farmers in Congress? Earlier this year, Braley received heaps of media attention for his remark concerning Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley being a “farmer.”
Endorsements: A tea party favorite. Ernst has received endorsements from tea party organizations across the country, including the nation’s largest tea party political action committee, Tea Party Express.
Endorsements: Bailey for Senate … I mean Braley. Braley became the focal point of media coverage once again when the first lady repeatedly botched his name, calling him “Bailey” seven times at an Oct. 11 campaign event.
Funding: Conservative PACs have Ernst’s back. At the end of the third quarter, Ernst had netted more than $8.7 million and still maintained $3.6 million in reserve funds heading into the finals weeks of the election, according to opensecrets.org.
Funding: 12 percent of Braley’s donations have come from lawyers. Braley has been a fundraising machine this election cycle, raking in nearly $10 million in donations as of Sept. 30, according to opensecrets.org.
Issues: Beating the Obama agenda. The web link to the hopeful’s campaign site reads: “Joni Ernst for US Senate - Time to beat the Obama agenda.” The way Ernst sees fit to do that is by creating jobs and instituting “real and meaningful health care reform.”
Issues: Increase minimum wage. Throughout his campaign, Braley hasn’t been shy on his support for raising minimum wage to $10.10 per hour with further increases going forward for inflation.