Joni Ernst launches first TV ad as another poll shows tight Iowa Senate race

In this May 19 photo, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters after a Senate Republican weekly luncheon on Capito
In this May 19 photo, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters after a Senate Republican weekly luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

In her first television ad of the 2020 campaign, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst warns of too much reliance on China, saying “saving America starts with Made in America.”

At the same time, national interest groups that have endorsed her Democratic challenger released a poll Monday showing a tight race between Ernst and Theresa Greenfield. The poll conducted for End Citizens United and Let America Vote shows Greenfield ahead 49 percent to 47 percent, which is within the poll’s 3.46 percent margin of error. The groups also say the poll findings show Ernst’s support from corporate interest groups will be fertile ground for Greenfield to defeat Ernst.

Ernst’s ad, “All Over,” highlights her experience as a battalion commander and military logistics expert who led convoys through Kuwait and Iraq to keep United States troops supplied.

“We drove our trucks all over Baghdad, through terror cells and IEDs, but we kept the supply chain going because American lives counted on it,” the 23-year veteran of the Iowa National Guard and first female combat veteran elected to the Senate says in the ad.

Today, the U.S. faces another threat — reliance on China “for far too much, from technology to medicine,” Ernst says. “So I’m fighting to bring it home ... because saving America starts with Made in America.”

Her experience in the military and Senate provides Ernst “with the leadership and know-how to reduce our dependence on China and bring our supply chain back home to the U.S.,” according to her communications director, Brendan Conley.

“While Joni and President Trump remain tough on China, Theresa Greenfield’s silence continues to show just how unprepared she is to lead at this critical moment,” he said.


Unprepared or not, Greenfield is leading Ernst in a series of polls that show the incumbent’s popularity flagging. Although Ernst has 93 percent name recognition, her approval rating among voters is 35 percent.

By a 20-point margin, voters say Ernst is “too close to corporate special interests.” The poll of 800 likely general election voters from June 23 to June 28 found that particularly damaging among swing voting groups “who drop support for Ernst after hearing how she has become part of the status quo in Washington,” according to the poll’s sponsors.

“Sen. Ernst promised Iowans that she would take on the Washington establishment and ‘make ’em squeal,’ but after five years in the Senate, she’s become a part of the problem,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United and Let America Vote.

Along with Greenfield, they have made an issue of Ernst’s support from corporate political action committees.

“This will be a potent issue for voters, and we look forward to helping Theresa get her message out while exposing Sen. Ernst’s record,” Muller said.

Although she has refused to take corporate PAC money, Greenfield has accepted at least $200,000 in campaign contributions from leadership PACs affiliated with Democratic senators that accepts corporate contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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