Yesterday Congressman Bruce Braley released an ad attacking State Senator Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak) the day after she won the Republican nomination in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race claiming that her voting record doesn’t match the rhetoric found in her ad “Squeal.”

Here is the ad:


Political Science professor at the University of Iowa Tim Hagle tweeted, “Imagine if a GOP candidate had used a “chick” in an ad against a female opponent.”

Kathie Obradovich wrote today in her column at The Des Moines Register, “My first thought on seeing that ad was, ‘They’re featuring a chick in an ad attacking a female opponent? Really?’”

The NRSC jumped in.

“Bruce Braley has shown time and time again just how tone deaf, elitist, and offensive he is,”said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. “Bruce Braley is a deeply flawed candidate who fears Joni Ernst’s momentum, and should be embarrassed by this ad. The next five months will reveal that Bruce Braley is nothing more than a mouth piece for the special interest trial lawyers who line his campaign coffers who either ignores or belittles Iowans.”

The Ernst campaign responded, “First Bruce Braley insults Senator Grassley and every single Iowa farmer,” said Ernst spokesperson, Gretchen Hamel.  “Now he degrades and insults Iowa women by comparing Joni Ernst to a ‘chick.’ Braley previously told the trial lawyers that if they gave him money he would be their voice in the senate, and it’s now clear that it comes at the expense of everyone else.”

To be totally honest when I watched the ad I didn’t think of this at all.  I guess I’m not wired that way, and I highly doubt that was the intent of the Braley camp (I can’t believe I’m actually defending them).  Hagle is right though, Democrats would have used the opportunity to jump on Republicans if they did the same thing.

I’d just say let’s not play the sexist card…. rise above.  It’s a non-starter.

Unlike Obradovich, the first thing I though was how odd it was for Braley to address his opponents record on spending cuts.  Not only do I find it odd, but downright hilarious.

I’m also sure Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican  didn’t intend that his column on Ernst’s record  would be mentioned in one of Braley’s ads.  His article lacked context, such as, being a minority member in the Iowa Senate her amendments would essentially go nowhere.  Also, he failed to point out that the state budget increases are ultimately the fault of Governor Branstad who submitted them.  Yes, the Legislature can cut it down, but good luck doing that with a divided legislature. (Update: Craig pointed out to me that he did include context and I missed it – see the comment below – so that wasn’t a fair statement to make, my apologies.)

I’m still waiting for an article criticizing Branstad for his role in growing the state budget since the start of his 5th term.  Robinson did, rightly, point out that Ernst sponsored amendments in 2013 that spent $11 million on intermodal transportation, an additional $9 million on pensions, and  $240,000 on additional funding for non-public textbooks.  She also co-sponsored an amendment for a preschool scholarship fund.

Two of the items he attacks Ernst for, are in essence, school choice programs.  The spending for non-public textbooks are a drop in the bucket compared to money spent on say Common Core or for the Department of Education’s plans to increase spending on assessments by switching to the Smarter Balanced Assessments (waiting on articles at TIR on that spending).  With preschool spending I would personally like to eliminate it all, but the scholarship fund, as I understand it looking at the bill, would have helped private preschools that took a hit with the creation of public preschools.  It also helps parents who would like to send their child to their local church-based preschool instead of to the local school system.

I understand one can argue the pros and cons of that type of spending.  These items are part of her record and should be examined so I don’t fault Robinson for doing so.  The primary problem with his piece that is now being used by Democrats is that he failed to point out instances where Ernst did try to cut spending.  The Ernst campaign in a statement today on Braley’s ad offered three such instances:

So Braley’s ad along with Robinson’s article are not entirely accurate.

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  1. Perhaps you should read what I actually wrote.

    You say “His article lacked context, such as, being a minority member in the Iowa Senate her amendments would essentially go nowhere. Also, he failed to point out that the state budget increases are ultimately the fault of Governor Branstad who submitted them. Yes, the Legislature can cut it down, but good luck doing that with a divided legislature.”

    In the article I write, “As a member of the minority party in the Iowa Senate, Ernst has little control over the final budget deals that are agreed to by House Republicans, Senate Democrats, and Governor Branstad, but that doesn’t mean a legislator can’t use the legislative process to cut spending.”

    Sorry Shane, but I put in the necessary context.

    Secondly, knowing that Ernst was in the minority during her 3 years in the Iowa Senate, I focused on amendments that were filed, not bills sponsored. Why? Because when you are in the minority your bills are not going anywhere, but you can AND SHOULD, use the amendment process to make bad bills better.

    I wrote, “An examination of Ernst’s senate record shows that she has never offered an amendment that would cut spending in her time in the Iowa Senate.”

    The problem with Braley’s ad is that he’s quoting my article about amendments, but saying that she never backed a measure that would have cut spending. That’s false, and my article doesn’t say that.

    I don’t like it when Democrats use TIR as a source to attack Republicans, but what I wrote almost a month ago was 100 percent factual, and provided the correct context.

    1. My bad on the remark about context, I’ll edit it. Yes I did read your article, but I reread it quickly. My apologies, I should have been more careful. I still believe you should have brought up bills she co-sponsored for balance.

      Good point on the difference between what you wrote and what the ad said.

      Re. Democrats using TIR, I know you don’t like it.

Comments are closed.

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