Finally, one of Iowa’s Republican senators has scheduled a public forum in the state’s largest cities. Joni Ernst announced this morning that she will host town hall meetings on college campuses in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids on March 17.
Here’s the details:
Linn County Town Meeting
Coe College – Sinclair Auditorium
1220 1st Avenue NE
Polk County Town Meeting
Drake University – Sheslow Auditorium
2507 University Ave
While both Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst visit all of Iowa’s 99 counties every year, they very rarely hold public events in Iowa’s most populous – and most Democratic – counties. Ernst seems to be making a point about being accessible by scheduling these two meetings in Iowa’s two largest cities, on college campuses no less. It will occur as the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act is at its hottest.
Ernst’s most recent public event in Maquoketa was overwhelmed by frustrated Iowans who disagreed with Ernst’s policy stances and Donald Trump’s election. She kept that event to only 45 minutes, with nearly a hundred protesters following her to her car afterward, chanting “shame.” During that event, Ernst attempted to treat it like any other forum, coming off as rather awkward in the face of angry constituents. She’ll probably need to practice on how to handle these next ones.
With the events held on a Friday, especially the Drake one at 5:00, massive crowds should show up, along with national reporters eager to capture some chaos on camera. However, Democrats may want to be a little wary of her schedule – holding public forums on St. Patrick’s Day at college campuses may be intentionally designed to encourage a loud, rowdy crowd. Attendees may want to be careful as to not play into Ernst’s hands, who may benefit with many Iowa voters if she’s seen as standing up to angry, shouting protesters.
by Pat Rynard