Senate challenger Theresa Greenfield critiques Joni Ernst for lack of independent voting record

US Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield speaks during the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar R
US Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield speaks during the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

JOHNSTON — Democrat Theresa Greenfield said Friday that Republican Sen. Joni Ernst won favor among Iowa voters in 2014 pitching herself as an independent thinker but spent her six years in Washington following her party’s political line and putting corporate interests ahead of Iowans.

Greenfield, a Des Moines businesswoman, touted herself during an IPBS “Iowa Press” appearance as a “scrappy farm girl” whose “grit and resolve” are rooted in her rural upbringing. She is challenging Ernst, a Red Oak Republican who runs as a mother, a soldier and a farm girl with conservative values who grew up castrating pigs.

Greenfield said Iowans are independent voters and thinkers – evidenced by the fact they sent liberal Tom Harkin and conservative Chuck Grassley to the U.S. Senate for decades – and she believes she will tap into the independent political vein by running a campaign geared toward putting Iowans first.

She intends “to ask for every vote and fight for every vote in this state,” she said during the taped IPBS show that aired Friday night and will air Sunday.

“I think that is one of the things that Joni Ernst did wrong,” Greenfield said. “She told us she was going to be independent and different and make them squeal. But when she went to Washington, she sided with her corporate donors, not Iowans. No one is squealing in Washington.”

Greenfield advocated for efforts to bolster and improve infrastructure, fix the “broken” immigration system, strengthen and enhance the federal Affordable Care Act rather than pursue a Medicare for all approach to improving health care, and to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices as a way to control costs for seniors.

The Democratic challenger said she would have voted for the $2 trillion federal CARES stimulus package that helped Iowans, businesses and the country battle the economic turmoil that came with the coronavirus pandemic. But now she said Ernst and other senators should “be back in Washington” until Congress and President Donald Trump have hammered out a Phase 4 stimulus package that addresses Americans’ need.


“Clearly, that first package was helpful, but it wasn’t enough,” Greenfield said, “and I have put out two plans and have been talking about how we help hardworking Iowans. We need to expand the extended unemployment benefits for that full $600 a week; we need more direct payments for workers; we need more PPP (paycheck protection program) for small businesses.”

Ernst, after touring storm damage in Cedar Rapids and helping with food distribution in a minor league baseball stadium parking lot Friday, said she is committed to another round of coronavirus relief, but doesn’t know how far-reaching it will be.

“We continue to work on that, and it is becoming increasingly difficult in recent weeks” because of political gamesmanship in Washington, Ernst said.

James Q. Lynch of The Gazette contributed to this story.

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