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Republicans Have A Joni Ernst Problem

Memo Pad Politics

Republicans Have A Joni Ernst Problem


Throughout the 2014 campaign season, the Iowa Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin has emerged as a surprisingly strong pickup opportunity for the Republican Party. President Barack Obama is wildly unpopular in Iowa, and Democratic nominee Bruce Braley has struggled to gain traction throughout the race (over the past five months, he’s seen a 10-point lead evaporate). But Republicans have a problem: their own nominee, state senator Joni Ernst.

Ernst has been an unconventional candidate from the beginning, but recently her curiosities have developed from quirky to extreme. In May, Ernst claimed that Iraq did, in fact, have weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. In June, video emerged of her vowing to stop Agenda 21, a non-binding UN resolution that she erroneously sees as a nefarious plot to outlaw property ownership. In July, she struggled to explain her flip-flop on whether President Obama “has become a dictator” who needs to be removed from office. Later that month, it was reported that Ernst believes that states can nullify federal laws they dislike.

Now another of her far-right positions is drawing widespread attention. In a Monday interview with the Globe Gazette, Ernst called for completely eliminating the federal minimum wage.

“The minimum wage is a safety net. For the federal government to set the minimum wage for all 50 states is ridiculous,” she said.

“The standard of living in Iowa is different than it is in New York or California or Texas,” she added. “One size does not fit all.”

Ernst’s comments represent a fundamental misunderstanding of how the minimum wage works. It is not “one size.” Although the federal government guarantees that the minimum wage cannot dip below $7.25 per hour, states can set their own rates (and they do — for example, New York’s is $8, and California’s is $9).

This is not the first time that Ernst has spoken out against the minimum wage; sensing opportunity, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has compiled an extensive list of her statements that government should have no role in the issue.

But Iowa voters seem unlikely to give her credit for consistency. In terms of both policy and politics, Ernst’s position is far out of line with her own state.

Iowa, which currently has a $7.25-per-hour minimum wage, would benefit greatly from the bill proposed by Senator Harkin and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to gradually raise the federal minimum to $10.10. According to an Economic Policy Institute analysis, a $10.10 minimum wage would increase wages for 306,000 workers in Iowa — more than one-fifth of the workforce — and generate $272,483,000 of economic activity. Eliminating it altogether? Not so much.

Polls have consistenly shown that Iowans side with Braley, who favors an increase to $10.10, over Ernst in this case. So it’s no surprise that Braley has been using the issue to go after the Republican nominee.

The minimum wage attacks are just one part of Democrats’ broader campaign to paint Ernst as too far on the fringe for Iowa (or “an onion of crazy,” as Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently put it). They have also targeted her as out of touch on Medicare and Social Security.

If Democrats can’t make Iowans fall in love with Bruce Braley by November, it appears that they will try to do the next best thing: Make them view Ernst as extreme to the point of unelectability. And nobody is helping them make that case more than Ernst herself.

Screenshot: YouTube

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Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

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  1. Lynda Groom August 26, 2014

    Iowa will certainly miss Harkin. When a state loses a senior member of the Senate they lose more than just prestige, they often see bacon going elsewhere.

  2. Dominick Vila August 27, 2014

    The fact that politicians like Ernst, Perry, Palin, Scott and others are considered legitimate candidates by so many Americans says more about the electorate than the candidates themselves. Unfortunately for Democrats it is probably too late to change the Republican tide that threatens Democratic control of the Senate, and a larger GOP majority in the House. The only bright spot for Democrats is that candidacies like this highlight the radicalism of modern-day conservative orthodoxy to the point that they don’t have a chance to win presidential elections.

    1. FT66 August 27, 2014

      Nothing is guaranteed so far for republicans. I suspect the polls we see are not going to translate to wins. Dems might be taking a low profile now BUT I can assure you DNC and grassroots organizers have done a superb and quite impressive job in making all required preparations. I wish Boehner can talk a little more on IMPEACHMENT. This kind of talk allowed a good flow of cash, hence making arrangements a bit easier.

      1. elw August 27, 2014

        I agree, no sense in giving up when there is more than two month left for the GOP candidates to turn people off with their nonsensical remarks.

      2. Albee August 27, 2014

        The pundits will be screaming, “Who knew?” when the GOP do not take the Senate in November.

        1. Dominick Vila August 31, 2014

          I think we still have a chance of keeping control of the Senate, but if we do it will only be by one seat, at the most.
          As for the House, I expect the GOP to increase their majority substantially.

    2. elw August 27, 2014

      I do not believe the GOP has a rap on the election. None of the main stream poll I have seen have shown enough GOP candidates with a big enough lead to guarantee that. With their talent for saying the wrong things, I would bet on enough of them coming up with an insulting enough comments to save the day for Dems.

      1. RobertCHastings August 30, 2014

        The recent revelations of McConnell’s (and others) statements at the big (secret) Republican fund raiser with the Koch brothers, and other billionaires, were quite similar to what Romney revealed in his “47%”, laying out precisely what the rich bastards wanted to hear, and what they could expect for their huge campaign contributions. If this was NOT a direct admission to bribery, I don’t know what the hell it was. Go to (www.alternet.org) for quotes and links.

        1. Dominick Vila August 31, 2014

          The fact that most Americans are ambivalent to what Mitch McConnell meant a couple of years ago when he admitted that their obstructionism was designed to make sure Barack Obama was a one-term president, and the apparent indifference of most Kentuckians when he reiterated his determination to continue to do the same if the GOP has control of the Senate after November, is perplexing to me. I wonder how many rank and file Republicans understand that their obstructionism, and their refusal to even consider policies designed to invest in infrastructure or job for returning veterans, delayed the economic recovery and placed an unnecessary burden on those that sacrificed so much. It is almost as if the main ingredient to be a loyal Tea Party zealot, besides stupidity, is a heavy dose of sadism or masochism.

          1. elw September 1, 2014

            There are not enough hard and faithful Republicans left to win an election with. So those who seem to ignore every horrible and crazy thing said by Mitch McConnell’s are not the issues. We need to get Democrats out to vote and we cannot lose. Hang in there we need you.

          2. RobertCHastings September 1, 2014

            Two senators of about twenty years ago from the South exemplified what McConnell today represents – Jessie Helms from North Carolina and Strom Thurmond from South Carolina. In the first place, they would both have freaked to see a black president (which I honestly believe is the overriding issue in Republican hatred of him); in the second place, racism is simply not dead, or even transformed, in the South, and Kentucky is STILL a part of the South. As conservatives have expanded their voter base, so have they expanded their hatred base. I was born in Wisconsin and, until moving to the South at 16, had never seen the specter of racism and the hatred that goes it. It was hoped in the 60s that this country would be beyond the racism of the South within the space of two generations. It will take much longer.

          3. Dominick Vila September 2, 2014

            Racism still influences the opinions and behavior of some Americans, but I think the most important reasons for the overt hatred directed at Barack Obama is influenced by ideology and by the danger that a successful Democratic President represents to the GOP-TP. Don’t forget the way Bill Clinton was attacked….

        2. elw September 1, 2014

          Exactly why I do not think they have a rap on anything, they always expect not be caught but are. There is no way they can go even three day without some kind of 47% remark to lose them votes.

          1. RobertCHastings September 1, 2014

            And, my friend, we have to hope they continue with this spiel for the next two months, at least. Oh, how sickening to actually look forward to such crap.

          2. elw September 2, 2014

            Oh, not to worry about them continuing, they cannot help themselves simply because they feel they are right and we are wrong. I look forward to them crying after the election.

    3. RobertCHastings August 30, 2014

      I like and agree with MOST of what you say, Dom. However, it sounds as if you are already giving up the fight. True, Dems do NOT show up at the polls for midterms, but large grass-roots efforts are at work in many of the at-risk races. And, as the current topic of our conversation (Ms. Ernst) appears to be so typical of the crop of hopefuls, we must hope (perhaps against hope itself) that American voters will see that this is nothing more than a Polish wedding. I HOPE I do NOT offend anyone with what follows. It is NOT intended to offend. “Why do they put horse crap on the walls at a Polish wedding? To keep the flies off the bride”. Once again, apologies to all.

      1. Dominick Vila August 31, 2014

        I haven’t given up, that’s why I decided to cast my vote. Reluctantly, I must admit, since choosing between a Tea Party zealot and a former Republican lite for Governor of Florida is not exactly what I had in mind.
        In addition to poor turnout, which is normal in midterm elections, and which augur problems for us considering how energized the opposition is, what bothered me the most was the fact that only Republicans were able to vote for candidates in many state and local races, because Democrats did not even bother to run in places where they know their candidacies would be a total waste of time, effort and money.
        Our chances are great at a national level, but the South and the Bible Belt are likely to be a disaster for us in November. The sad part is that the reasons for the likely debacle have nothing to do with what an electorate should pay attention to. That is, ending the economic slide that almost destroyed us. Taking effective steps to restore investor and consumer confidence. Cutting the Federal government deficits in half. Reducing the rate of accumulation of debt. Putting in place a sound economic strategy that has resulted in solid corporate profits, hiring, job creation, and bringing bankruptcies and foreclosures down to normal levels. Fighting for equality, livable wages, and other such causes. Ending inhumane practices that were inconsistent with our values. Ending the occupation of Iraq and reducing our presence in Afghanistan, and the list goes on. No, I have not given up, but I prefer to look at things objectively, and the set of circumstances we are facing at the moment, especially the large number of incumbent Democrats running for re-election in red states and districts, is something that cannot be ignored or dismissed as irrelevant. Hopefully we will win all races in blue states, and win enough races in competitive states such as Virginia and North Carolina, to offset the onslaught we are likely to see in most red states.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker August 27, 2014

    No one considers these GOP Come Get Me Girls as candidates. These are mouthpieces of the GOP’s bull back room. Nothing more. They have only enough education to fill a thimble.

    The reality is that the House GOP majority is once again threatening another shutdown. They are spending $350 million on $500/hr lawyers to sue the president with OUR tax dollars? Who gave them permission?

    Of the 17 freeloader states, it will be nice to see the reduction in CON politicians. Already, KY is eyeing Allison Grimes and Montana is following suit with a Democratic female in their state.

    Iowa has gotten more than its fair share of our tax dollars. Why should the rest of the states do without while Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and the rest of the 17 Confederate states lap up what the rest of the country busts butt to earn?

    1. jointerjohn August 27, 2014

      The GOP loves goofball women because they reinforce their hideous stereotype of all women. They don’t despise Hilleary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren because they are democrats, the despise them because they are smart, tough and savvy.

    2. GoodEssence September 1, 2014

      “These are mouthpieces of the GOP’s bull back room. Nothing more. They have only enough education to fill a thimble.”

      Ernst has a bachelor’s degree and a master of public administration. She is a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard.

      Perhaps you should open your eyes and mind rather than to dismiss genuine accomplishments that don’t fit your preconceptions.

  4. JDavidS August 27, 2014

    What is it about a once great party like the Republican Party, and it was a great party at one time….now only draws idiots and fools, like flies to shit. God, go down the list…Perry, Gohmert, Palin, Jindal, Gingrich, Boehner, “spokes-idiot” Nugent, Bachmann. The list goes on and on and reads like a “Who’s Who” of the stupid.

    1. midway54 August 27, 2014

      But they are received gleefully among the yahoos and rednecks of Dupedom South and the western mountain states whose favorite news sources are Fox “News” and the uneducated, millionaire propagandist buffoons Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck.

    2. plc97477 August 27, 2014

      The problem is that the average gotp voter will not vote for sane people cus sane people are not racists. So all they have left are the crazies.

    3. Zwei Stein August 27, 2014

      My thoughts exactly.

    4. booker25 August 28, 2014

      followers, not leaders

    5. RobertCHastings August 30, 2014

      My father died in 1991, a firm believer in Saint Ronald(Reagan). Since that time, I know of at least three lifetime Republicans who have changed their affiliation for the simple reason that it was not today the party they knew in the past. Congressman Jeffords (Vermont?) changed the makeup of the Senate (?) during the Clinton administration for the same reason. There are, still, some honest and honorable Republicans in our Congress, but not many.

  5. Lovefacts August 27, 2014

    People tend to vote for candidates who are willing to say what they stand for. While Democrats have the better message and candidate, they don’t win because:
    1. They still believe the electorate is too smart to fall for Republican lies.
    2. They’re so afraid of losing they distance themselves from Democratic Party positions and the president.
    3. They don’t explain the Democrats’ position.
    4. They don’t attack their opponent’s positions on the issues.
    5. They don’t defend the President.
    6. They keep moving to the right, to the point where some times it’s hard to tell the difference between a Dem and Republican. (FYI–There’s nothing wrong with being a Progressive/Populace who holds strong opinions a la Elizabeth Warren. However, in today’s world being a flaming far left liberal will lose you the election, unless you’re Bernie Sanders.)
    7. The DNC doesn’t have a national campaign on the issues–30 second spots–which contrasts the Democratic Party’s stand or shows the end result of the Republican Party’s position.

    1. plc97477 August 27, 2014

      One more problem for the dems is we do not have the voice the gotp has. We do not have our own channels and venues. I keep hearing people say we need to get our accomplishments out there but they forget faux news is not going to help us and the other stations aren’t chomping at the bit either.

    2. Albee August 27, 2014

      The Dems are spineless fair-weather friends. They run from Obama and expect people to vote for them?

      1. JPHALL August 27, 2014

        And that is what happened in 2010 yo give the GOP/TP the House..

  6. Albee August 27, 2014

    I do blame our media for letting these wackos go unchallenged while they smear Obama with every talk radio insanity. The MSM showed it was willing to let Trump’s ugly racist birtherism become just another point of view and opened the floodgates.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker August 28, 2014

      You are actually on the mark on this issue of media indoctrination. It is my fervent belief that the billionaire media moguls know exactly what they are doing when they OWN too many media outlets on radio, TV, magazines, papers and online social media.

      All I needed to know about where Rupert Murdoch was going with his autocratic and all too blatant destruction of US “free press” was when he publicly stated that “his media, his way” was the way it would be. How anarchistic does media need to get before it imposes ONLY the type of news these media titans demand?

      1. RobertCHastings September 1, 2014

        What do you and Albee mean? It sounds to me like you are claiming there is no such thing as a “liberal media”. We all know that the liberal media is responsible for all that ails the country now. I have sitting on my desk, waiting to be read, Dan Rather’s “The American Dream” and Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation”. Earlier this year I read autobiographies of Cronkite and Jennings. It is a crying shame that these men have left their desks to the likes of those who today occupy them.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker September 2, 2014

          Check the facts. The billionaire media titans number 4, Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Mort Zuckerberg and just recently, the Koch bois got their noses into Chicago media.

          In fact, go one better…check out who is linked to most book publishing companies. The reason these Joi Bois get their meat hooks so deeply embedded into the media and demand publications be according to their ill conceived right wing Libertarian edicts is because there are NO teeth in today’s anti-trust laws. How do men like the Koch bois own oil companies AND the media?

          Teddy Roosevelt would not have allowed such blatant overlapping from one type of business to another. And when the entire of US industry ends up in the hands of these Titans of Wealth, then what?

  7. ExRadioGuy15 August 27, 2014

    The article’s title misses the point a bit….
    The Republicans don’t have a “Joni Ernst” problem…
    They have an ideological problem: they’re Fascists…
    If they didn’t adhere to Fascist principles with their actions, it wouldn’t matter whom represented them…
    Republicans have a ideological problem: they’re FASCISTS

  8. howa4x August 27, 2014

    Tea party candidates always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

  9. herchato August 27, 2014

    Just another normal republican.

  10. Zwei Stein August 27, 2014

    God Almighty! Another “scholar” of the GOP! I’m only surprised she didn’t describe a legitimate rape!

    1. RobertCHastings September 1, 2014

      You just opened the door, and I MUST walk through. Would she even know she was raped if it happened to her? OUCH!

  11. booker25 August 28, 2014

    Another Sharon Angle, another “I’am not a witch”, another Sarah Palin, gee doesn’t it ever get old with the GOP picking clueless women??

  12. RobertCHastings August 30, 2014

    As with the majority of Republicans, she is against immigration reform,I must assume. I can understand why. It would be a pity to be a US Senator and have ALL naturalized immigrants know more about the Constitution than you do. She would fail the citizenship test miserably.

  13. trm September 11, 2014

    Unfortunately since I dont have days to explain to you all economics, politics and the such , Ill just give a little history.
    In the last 60 years Republicans have only held both houses and the Presidency 4 years.
    Is this policy of the electorate?
    Lets look at Democrat policies shall we?
    So all the stuff you complain about is most likely something a result of something a Democrat passed Just a fact I dont have to listen to the news to get this information.
    Including the Social security Ponzi scheme.
    The Minimum wage, which casuses inflation and results in more people below the poverty line. You just did this 5-7 years ago and we have more people then ever scraping the bottom. News flash thats what happens. So why do you want to do it again? Compound that with trying to compete with other countries and you have a formula for failure. Might sound good if your a politician and sounds good if your making minimum wage, but it has a negative result. You understand that right?


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