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Come Saturday Morning: Joni Ernst and What the Des Moines Register Won’t Tell You About Her

In the comments section of this post on the craziness that is Joni Ernst, a commenter wondered how it could be possible that the Tea-Partying Ernst could win a US Senate seat. The short answer: Because the local media in Iowa, particularly the Des Moines Register, make a point of not telling all they know about her.

Things like this Radio-Rwanda-esque scene:

In the rural Iowa town of Red Oak, the names and addresses of the 29 people who signed a petition to remove a candidate from the ballot in a local election were read on the radio repeatedly in 2004. The speaker’s voice dripped with outrage that citizens would try to keep someone from running for office.

“I thought they were going to burn someone’s house down,” Barry Loving, a Red Oak resident who heard the broadcasts, told The Daily Beast.

The candidate those 29 people wanted off the ballot was Joni Ernst, who is currently the Republican nominee for Senate in Iowa and running as the epitome of “Iowa nice”. Her race against Democrat Bruce Braley is currently one of the closest races in the country and could determine control of the Senate. And while Ernst paints herself as the candidate of small town values and attacks her opponent for his supposed lack of civility, she comes from a political background that’s more “House of Cards” than “Little House on the Prairie.”


The local radio station, which was owned by Ernst supporter Jerry Dietz, mounted an all-out crusade on Ernst’s behalf. The names and addresses of Ernst’s opponents were repeatedly read aloud on air, and a county panel unanimously decided that Ernst could run. Ernst actually had to withdraw from the campaign though after it was discovered her emergency management position with the county also precluded a run, but her name was already on the ballot and she won anyway. After a county convention officially made her the GOP nominee, Ernst cruised to victory in the general election again against Magneson, who ran as an independent.

Or this:

Joni Ernst’s campaign has lost its challenge to keep a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad off of the air. A local television station will keep running the ad, which talks about the 20,000 Iowa jobs that have been outsourced, and Ernst’s pledge “to keep special tax breaks for corporations shipping jobs overseas.”


Ernst has quite the habit of disavowing the things she’s signed pledges for. Like nullification and “authoriz[ing] state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?” When pressed on that one, and perhaps seeing for the first time how crazy it sounds to a non-primary voting audience, Ernst backtracked, with her campaign issuing the statement “Joni has not and does not endorse or support nullification.” Except for when she signed the pledge saying she does.

And this:

In audio obtained by Iowa Public Radio, Senate hopeful Joni Ernst told a group of reporters that the reason Republicans oppose Obamacare is because the job of caring for the poor is simply not the purview of government. The poor, she said, should rely on churches and charitable organizations for help.

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