Government

Democrats plan attack on Joni Ernst's 'Make 'Em Squeal' campaign ad

Republicans plan to defend Iowa senator, who seeks re-election

Sen. Joni Ernst meets with community leaders at Coralville City Hall on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Sen. Joni Ernst meets with community leaders at Coralville City Hall on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowa Democratic Party officials say they are using Wednesday’s six-year anniversary of Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s “Squeal” advertisement to launch a 2020 ad campaign that seeks to hold her accountable for not living up to her promises to “make Washington squeal.”

Instead of delivering on her 2014 promise, Ernst, a first-term Red Oak Republican, has become a part of the problem in the Washington, D.C., she vowed to fix, “leaving Iowans behind in her career’s wake,” party spokesperson Jeremy Busch said.

To highlight Ernst’s record, Democrats plan to run an ad called, called “Making Iowans Squeal,” on digital platforms in the coming weeks and during the course of this year’s election.

Democrats claim Ernst has put the agenda of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and her special-interest backers ahead of the needs of Iowans the past five-plus years — “rubber-stamping corporate handouts on the backs of Iowa workers, leading efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut coverage protections for pre-existing conditions, and putting Iowans’ retirement security on the line with closed-door threats to undermine Medicare and Social Security,” according to an Iowa Democratic Party news release.

According to Iowa Democrats, Ernst’s campaign is now relying on “dark money ads to whitewash her record” and an arrangement with a separate “Iowa Values” group to shield her from election-year fallout with voters.

“Sen. Ernst promised to be different — but once she landed in Washington, Ernst began working in lock-step with Mitch McConnell, special interests and power brokers who put personal profits over the well-being of Iowans,” Busch said.

Iowa Democratic Party video ad

“Sen. Ernst’s bait-and-switch worked once — but Iowans now see Ernst for who she truly is: just another Washington politician who will do and say anything to win re-election,” he added. “Come November, voters will elect a new senator who will fight for us and never put our communities on the line for their own career benefit.”

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Five Democrats are running in the June primary for the chance to face Ernst in the November election.

Ernst spokeswoman Melissa Deatsch countered that the Iowa Democratic Party along with dark-money groups are “playing petty political games at a time of a worldwide pandemic.”

“Joni Ernst is working tirelessly to provide the relief Iowa families and businesses need,” she added in a statement. “Joni is working nonstop to ensure families have paid sick leave, provide assistance to small businesses, like child care centers, and more.

“In fact,” Deatsch added, “Joni has identified more than $350 million in taxpayer money from an unused presidential campaign fund and has championed a proposal to use those funds to provide the needed protective equipment to our health care workers on the front lines.”

Also, leaders of the Republican Party of Iowa announced Wednesday they plan to launch “a positive digital ad thanking Sen. Ernst for working tirelessly for six years to make Washington squeal,” said Iowa GOP spokesman Aaron Britt.

The Republican post will read: “It’s been almost six years since Sen. Ernst first promised she’d ‘Make ’Em Squeal’ when she went to Washington. From slashing wasteful spending with the SWAG Act, to holding government agencies accountable, Joni has kept her promise to Iowans. Help us thank Joni for working tirelessly to Make ‘Em Squeal,’” according to the GOP email response.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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