Des Moines real estate developer Theresa Greenfield has officially won Iowa’s Democratic Senate primary, which means she’ll take on sitting Sen. Joni Ernst, one of the upper chamber’s more vulnerable members, later this fall.
Greenfield was the Democratic Party favorite: She’d picked up the endorsements of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as well as backing from powerhouse groups like Emily’s List and Iowa’s AFL-CIO. The party has already begun ramping up its spending in the race, which is among those that will be one of the most closely watched and expensive during the general election this fall.
Greenfield grew up on a farm as the daughter of a crop-duster. She previously worked as an urban planner and now runs a real estate development company. In a campaign ad, Greenfield goes after Ernst’s trademark “make them squeal” tagline, which she’s previously used to claim that she’ll curb wasteful spending — though she’s since voted to support major tax breaks including the 2018 cuts.
Greenfield has emphasized that she’ll focus on bolstering the social safety net if she’s elected, and cited her past reliance on Social Security as an example of why she finds such efforts important.
While Iowa is still rated as “Lean Republican” by Cook Political Report, it’s seen as a key target for the Democratic Party in its efforts to retake the Senate majority. Ernst’s seat was held by Democrat Tom Harkin until 2014, after all, and she’s currently one of the less popular senators in the country, according to Morning Consult.
The dynamics of the presidential election could well have a major impact on the momentum that candidates experience, too. In Iowa, Trump’s approval is at 46 percent, though it’s surpassed by his disapproval rate, per a Morning Consult poll.
“The key factor in all the congressional races in Iowa is the national landscape,” University of Northern Iowa political science professor Donna Summer tells Vox. “The fate of the Democrats are tied to national fortunes. The fortunes for the incumbent Republican Party, in this sense, hinges on how voters judge the economy.”
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