Government

'Disappointed' Iowa Democrats tell Sen. Chuck Schumer to stay out of Iowa's Senate primary

'We really should have done more earlier,' Linn chairman says

Linn County Democratic Party Chairman Bret Nilles (left) talks with Ravi Patel, a congressional candidate, in 2015 durin
Linn County Democratic Party Chairman Bret Nilles (left) talks with Ravi Patel, a congressional candidate, in 2015 during a fundraiser in Cedar Rapids. Nilles is among the “disappointed Iowa Democrats” who wrote U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asking him to “cease and desist” with ads in Iowa’s Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. (The Gazette)
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A group of Iowa Democrats are telling Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to “cease and desist unwelcomed interferences” in their primary election campaign to nominate a U.S. Senate candidate.

Identifying themselves as “disappointed Iowa Democrats,” 10 party activists wrote Schumer, who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, asking him to “quit big-footing Iowa Democratic Party primary election campaigns.”

The DSCC is backing Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield in the four-way race to be the party’s challenger to Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in November.

Other Democratic candidates in the Tuesday primary are Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham and Eddie Mauro.

The Democratic letter writers called on the DSCC to “immediately cease and desist the financing of negative attack ads aimed at any Iowa Democratic candidate for elective office.”

In particular the letter writers, who include Iowa City attorney James Larew and Linn County Democratic Party Chairman Bret Nilles, said the recent negative attack ads on Franken by outside groups were the final straw. Some, if not all of the signees, are backing Franken.

“We really should have done more earlier,” Nilles said, adding that despite the support Greenfield was receiving, “it seemed like it was an open race until just recently.”

The letter writers said Schumer, in endorsing Greenfield and attracting outside groups to fund attack ads, has “not merely placed your thumb upon, but, rather, have stomped your footprint upon, the scales of fairness” typical of Iowa Democratic primaries.

Greenfield communications director Sam Newton said Friday that outside GOP groups will spend millions of dollars to re-elect Ernst.

“Theresa remains the only candidate building the strong grassroots momentum needed to defeat Sen. Ernst, including endorsements from 25 labor groups, support from nearly 80 Democratic Iowa leaders and activists and nearly 19,000 contributions from Iowans in all 99 counties,” he said.

The letter to Schumer in no way represents an attack on Greenfield, Nilles said. Although he has endorsed Franken, “I like Theresa as well and will be supporting whoever wins the primary.”

The letter writers stated all they are seeking is a level playing field for all candidates. However, the intervention by the DSCC “and its associated pressure groups ... has created a treacherous playing field that is hardly level.”

It’s understandable the DSCC wants the best candidate facing Ernst, who they see as vulnerable, “but it should be the people of Iowa making that final decision,” they wrote.

Nilles doubts Schumer will respond before primary voting ends Tuesday, but he hopes the letter will have an impact as the party seeks a candidate to run against Sen. Chuck Grassley in 2022.

The others signing the letter were Bill Brauch, member of the state Democratic Central Committee; Cedar Rapids lawyer Sara Riley; former state Sen. Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge; Nancy Bobo, founder and chairwoman of Women for a Stronger America; Council Bluffs lawyer Edward Noethe; Ruth Thompson, vice chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party Disability Caucus and member of the Polk County Democratic Central Committee; Suzette Jensen, member of the Asian and Latina Coalition; and Mary Jo Riesberg, Lee County Democratic Party chairwoman.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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