In the race for the Iowa Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin one candidate has balls, a lady. Those balls have propelled her into the lead in a crowded Republican primary and they just may be enough to take her all the way to Washington.
Make no mistake. I’m not talking about a transvestite. Those balls belong to Joni Ernst, a mother of three. They are not her own. They are the ones she bragged about taking from the pigs she castrated on her family’s farm in her first 30-second TV commercial.
“I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm so when I get to Washington, I know how to cut pork,” she says with a disarming smile. “My parents taught us to live within our means. It’s time to force Washington to do the same.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9Y24MFOfFU
The initial ad buy was a modest $9,000 but it returned 100 times that amount in free advertising. After running her ad, comic Steven Colbert quibbled, “Folks, it does not matter what else she stands for. I am pulling for her whole hog, or whatever is left of the hog when she is done with this.”
Half a million hits later on YouTube, this little-known, unabashed state senator and former county auditor has pulled away from the rest of the field, leaving Mark Jacobs, a retired utility CEO in her dust. Jacobs recently moved back to Iowa from Texas and put a couple of million dollars of his own money into the race.
In her ad, punctuated by little porkers, the attractive, affable Ernst promises to cut waste, repeal Obamacare and balance the budget. She tags it with, “Washington is full of big spenders. Let’s make em squeal!”
Her four opponents are doing a lot of squealing nowadays, some calling her ad “tasteless.” Nevertheless, it worked. Money began pouring in which allowed her to run a second ad that was equally hard-hitting and to the point. Clad in black leather, she jumps on a Harley, dismounts seconds later and fires several shots with deadly precision into a shooting range target.
This gave her the jump on Jacobs and the rest of a formidable field which includes a former U.S. attorney, a popular conservative radio talk show host and a car dealership manager. Now the gutsy farm girl, who is an Iraqi war veteran and a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, has them all in the rearview mirror of that Harley. The only question is can she capture 35 percent of the vote in the primary on June 3. That is what is needed to keep the nomination from being decided at the state’s GOP convention.
I’m betting that she can. A few months ago, despite a solid conservative record, she was lagging behind in the polls with little money and name recognition outside of Montgomery County. It took courage to allow her campaign to design an ad around her ability to castrate pigs. Courage is in short supply among GOP lawmakers in Washington, especially the leadership. When the going gets tough they often behave like the castrated swine on the farm where Ernst spent her girlhood.
Also, pork is an anathema to voters that cuts across party lines. We hate it! Most candidates — Democrat and Republican — promise to eliminate it once they get to Washington but, the longer they remain in office, the more political favors they distribute to their financial supporters in order to stay in office. And, yes, the stench of pork frying reaches all the way to Iowa.
A few months ago, Bruce Braley, a four-term congressman from the urban northeast who is the presumptive Democrat nominee, was picking out his office in the upper chamber. Now, the former ambulance chaser’s chances of retaining that seat for the donkey party are no better than 50-50. Braley’s star has been sinking since he publicly lamented that if the Democrats lose their majority in the Senate, Chuck Grassley, a (horrors) “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school,” could become the chair of the Judiciary Committee. Grassley is extremely popular in the state and won every county in Braley’s district when he was reelected in 2010
Braley is a reminder that Washington is awash with porcine trial lawyers, which is a big reason we have a $17.5 trillion national debt.
What the Senate needs is a feminine, pistol-packing mamma who can remind her male colleagues of their manhood and who has enough gravitas to shame them into using it to trim the fat.