IOWA
     Nov. 4, 2014 U.S. Senate                                      

Gov.
Sen.3
Sen.2
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+Joni Ernst (R)
588,575
52.10%
Bruce Braley (D)
494,370 43.76%
Rick Stewart (I) 26,815
2.37%
Doug Butzier (L)
8,232
0.73%
Bob Quast (I) 5,873 0.52%
Ruth Smith (I) 4,724 0.42%
write-ins
1,111


1,129,700

Registration (Active): 1,937,709.
Total voters: 1,142,311 (under votes 12,084; over votes 500).
Plurality: 94,205 votes (8.34 percentage points).

 Iowa Secretary of State



REPUBLICAN PICK-UP
Notes: 
This was an open seat; Sen. Tom Harkin (D) announced he would not run for re-election on Jan. 26, 2013 after serving five terms in the Senate (first elected in 1984).  In a closely fought race, State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) defeated U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (D).  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this was the third most expensive Senate race of the cycle, with spending by the campaigns and outside groups totaling $86.8 million. 

Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, hailed from Red Oak in southwest Iowa.  She served two terms as Montgomery County Auditor and was elected to the state Senate in a 2011 special election from District 12.  In the June 3, 2014 Republican primary Ernst garnered 56.1% (88,535 votes), defeating Siouxland radio personality Sam Clovis 18.0% (28,418), former Reliant Energy executive Mark Jacobs (16.8%) 26,523,  former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa Matt Whitaker (7.5%) 11,884, and businessman Scott Schaben 2,233.  Ernst's memorable campaign ad "Squeal" from March 2014 was seen as a significant factor in her primary win.  “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.” "Make 'em squeal" became a rallying cry for Ernst's campaign (1, 2, 3).  

Braley was unchallenged for the Democratic nomination.  He was serving his fourth term as a member of Congress representing the 1st CD (eastern Iowa).  Originally from Brooklyn, Iowa, he had worked as an attorney in Waterloo since 1983. 

Others on the ballot were Dr. Doug Butzier (L) and Rick Stewart (I).  Butzier, an emergency medicine MD from Dubuque, died in a small plane crash on Oct. 13.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2014 Ernst benefited from visits and support from many Republican presidential hopefuls who were preparing to run in the Iowa caucuses (+); activity in support of Braley was more limited on the Democratic side (+).
 
Braley and Ernst debated on Sept. 28 at Simpson College hosted by KCCI 8 (>); on Oct. 11 at Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, sponsored by the Quad-City Times and KWQC-TV6; and on Oct. 16 at Morningside College in Sioux City hosted by KCAU-TV (>).

Excerpts from the candidates' opening statements in the first debate convey the contentious tone (>) of the race.

Braley: "This election is about a clear choice between moving Iowa forward or following a radical Tea Party agenda that's going to take us backwards.  And on issue after issue, Sen. Ernst has stood with the Koch brothers and their extreme agenda
that's wrong for Iowa, from repealing the federal minimum wage to privatizing Social Security to opposing the farm bill and the renewable fuel standard."

Ernst: "I believe Washington is taking our country in the wrong direction.  And for the past eight years Congressman Braley has been there voting with Nancy Pelosi: higher taxes, bigger government, the Wall Street bailout, Obamacare.  This is his Washington record.  He can't defend it so he's running the most negative campaign that Iowans have ever seen.  Washington has failed."

Throughout the race Braley and allies focused considerable attention on Ernst's position on Social Security.  Ernst sought to tie Braley to Obama. Braley also drew heat for his characterization of Sen. Chuck Grassley
as "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law."  Video of the remarks surfaced in Mar. 2014; Braley, at a fundraiser, was speaking about the prospect that Grassley would head the Senate Judiciary Committee if Republicans gained the majority.

Ernst won by 8.34 percentage points
(1, 2), becoming the first woman elected to Congress from Iowa.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (>), the two campaign spent a total of almost $24 million, roughly evenly split: Braley $12.1 million and Ernst $11.9 million.  Outside spending totaled $62.8 million.  Twelve groups spent more than $1 million—on the Republican side: NRSC ($7.0 million), American Crossroads ($5.0 million), Freedom Partners Action Fund ($4.5 million), US Chamber of Commerce ($3.1 million), NRA ($1.9 million), Priorities for Iowa ($1.2 million), and NRA-ILA ($1.2 million); and on the Democratic side: DSCC ($12.4 million), NextGen Climate Action ($5.1 million), Senate Majority PAC ($5.1 million) and LCV ($1.2 million).


Campaign Managers
Joni Ernst: 
Jon Kohan
[won campaign manager of the year award from the AAPC for this race]... (June 201
4) Chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (SC), May 2013-June 2014.  Campaign manager on Sanford for Congress (SC) special election, Jan.-May 2013.  Account executive (Jan. 2012-Jan. 2013) and deputy to the EVP (Jan. 2011-Jan. 2012) at Jamestown Associates.  Staff assistant to U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ), Jan. 2009-Jan. 2011.   Director of operations on Zimmer for U.S. Senate, Apr.-Nov. 2008.  Legislative aide in the NJ General Assembly, Jan.-Aug. 2006.  B.A. in government from Georgetown University, 2011.  New Jersey native.

Bruce Braley:  Sarah Benzing
(Sept. 3, 2013)  Campaign manager on Ed Markey for Senate, Jan.-June 2013.  Campaign manager on Friends of Sherrod Brown, Feb. 2011-Dec. 2012.  Campaign manager on Gillibrand for Senate, Aug. 2009-Dec. 2010.  Chief of staff to Rep. Braley,  Jan. 2007-July 2009.  Campaign manager on Braley for Congress, Feb.-Dec. 2006.  Field director on Tim Kaine for Governor, Mar. 2005-Jan. 2006.  Ohio voter contact director for America Coming Together, Nov. 2004-Nov. 2004. 
Iowa Caucus/field director on Bob Graham's campaign for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, announced May 1, 2003 served through end of the campaign in October.  Canvass/field director for the IDP's 2002 Coordinated Campaign; worked for the Iowa Democratic Party, June 2001-Dec. 2002.  Organizer for AFSCME in Gainesville, FL, Jan.-June 2001.  Regional director in Waterloo for the Iowa Democratic Party, June-Nov. 2020.  Field coordinator for Butler, Bremer, Franklin, Grundy and Hardin counties on Al Gore's 2000 Iowa caucus campaign, then in Olympia, WA, Sept. 1999-Apr. 2000.  Bachelor's degree in political science and government from University of Northern Iowa, 2000.  Native of Neola, Iowa.


See also:
Andrea Drusch and National Journal.  "Iowa Senate Candidate Joni Ernst's Secret Weapon: Mitt Romney."  The Atlantic, June 3, 2014.








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