Chronicle Editorial


All eyes on Iowa


     Get ready for a bloodbath, because the campaign season is about to get ugly.

     Well, maybe uglier.

     Election season throughout Iowa and the entire country has entered a fever pitch in recent weeks. Primary elections have yielded some interesting results here and elsewhere, and it’s poised to get even more heated as we progress into summer. Iowa has a prized U.S. Senate seat up for grabs, and handful of contested races for the U.S. House have also drawn the eye of the national media. Once again, Iowa and its politics are at center stage.

     The matchup for the Senate seat between Republican Jodi Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley is the marquee event here in the Hawkeye State. Braley, who once seemed like a shoo-in to replace long-time Senator Tom Harkin, doesn’t appear so automatic anymore. Ernst was been able to build her brand through a series of unconventional TV commercials prior to her primary election victory. In her most well-know ad, she mentioned castrating pigs on a farm while growing up in Iowa. The commercial raised a few eyebrows and may be tounge-in-cheek, but it appears to have worked – recent polls show Braley and Ernst in a neck and neck race.

     Like every other close election, the Senate race will boil down to whichever candidate appeals to moderate voters. It seems unlikely that Ernst could garner much support from undecided voters come November. She has a staunch conservative background and Iowa Senate voting record that might make her appear too right wing for some. But Braley has a partisan record too, and most of it comes at the national level during his time in the House of Representatives. It’s much too early to pick a favorite in this race, but one thing’s for certain: the mud is going to fly feverishly over the next four months.

     The glitz and glamor of the Ernst/Braley race has overshadowed other campaigns throughout the state. A tooth-and-nail fight for the GOP nomination in U.S. Congressional District 3 has created a dragged out affair in the wake of an inconclusive primary – none of the six candidates garnered 35 percent of the vote on June 3, which forced the need for a nominating convention scheduled for this week. The winner will go on to face Democratic Staci Appel in the race to replace outgoing District 3 Congressman Tom Latham. This campaign has also created quite a stir, as the winner will have some pretty big shoes to fill. Latham is well-liked throughout the state and is very respected among his peers in Washington, D.C.

     Even our own area isn’t spared from election excitement this year. Incumbent Democratic state Senator Amanda Ragan will square off against Republican candidate Shawn Dietz in Iowa Senate District 27. The race has drawn statewide attention from both parties as Republicans make a push for control of the legislative houses in Des Moines – if a few districts change hands in November, Republicans could take power in both the House and Senate. Making the District 27 race even more significant is the fact that there hasn’t been an election held here since lines were redrawn after the 2010 Census. Whether it goes red or blue will have interesting implications at the local level and throughout the state.

     The next four months will be daunting and quite bothersome for most folks. Political ads are going to flood media at all levels, headlines will be crammed with campaign news, and endless debate will pop each day about who has the best shot come Election Day. Nonetheless, it’s great that we have a choice. We can bemoan our two-partied system and complain about a lack of options, but two choices are better than one.

     The outcomes these races are yet to be seen, but voters should brace themselves – the next few months are going to be one wild ride.