LAKE MACBRIDE— With yesterday’s top of the ticket U.S. Senate debate between U.S. Representative Bruce Braley and State Senator Joni Ernst, the Iowa political season moves into the final stretch. For those who don’t recognize it, that’s a horse racing metaphor, and at this point, Ernst looks to lead by a nose, although based on the aggregate of polling, it is still neck and neck.
A lot can happen between now and Nov 4. Braley is leveraging the existing ground organization of the Iowa Democratic Party, comprised of the usual cast of characters plus a contingent of out of state organizers. Ernst is doing a “full Grassley,” which means talking to the faithful in all 99 Iowa counties. Both candidates are raising every nickle they can.
Both have third party groups, financed by people we know, advocating for their respective campaigns. Based on the candidate comments last night, Charles and David Koch are causing the most trouble for Braley, and NextGen Climate, financed by venture capitalist Tom Steyer, is hitting Ernst’s campaign hard enough for her to omit from her comments the other groups backing Braley. The playing field is not equal between the Koch Brothers and Tom Steyer, but there is a tendency to depict it as such. There are other groups supporting both candidates, but they didn’t get a mention during the debate.
The race will be won by whoever secures the largest number of so-called “no-preference” voters. If the truth will out, and one hopes it does, Braley will win. Whether it will is an open question. Both Braley and Ernst confirmed who they are in their responses last night, something that is not news to those of us paying attention. The trouble is it will be a couple of weeks before most people, no preference voters particularly, start engaging. Most that I know with this registration have not begun to engage in the race.
Ernst was asked, “what do you believe about climate change? What would you do about it?” Her response began, “I grew up drinking well water on a farm. My dad is a conservationist. Most Iowa farmers are phenomenal conservationists.” The head scratching began.
“I don’t know the science behind climate change, but I cannot say one way or another whether it is man-made or not,” she continued. “I have heard arguments on both sides.”
In framing up a well worn climate denier argument, Ernst affirmed her relationship with the oil and gas lobby. More importantly, she revealed that she does not have the intellectual capacity to evaluate what many believe is the most important issue of our time. This has larger consequences when applied to issues of war and peace, helping the needy, controlling our national budget, nuclear disarmament, and many others.
Her statements about the relationship between recycling, conservation, the Environmental Protection Agency, Cap and Trade, farming and well water would not stand up to the light of day if people could hear what she said. Whether the Braley campaign will effectively get the word out to likely voters remains another open question.
For those of us in the working class, this is pretty theoretical. We have bills to pay and a reality in which to live, one that is not always pleasant, as this news story indicates.