More than 885,000 Iowans already have voted in an election cycle experiencing record early voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped candidates from running ads and making their final pitches to voters who are waiting to cast their ballot on Election Day.
To give you a sense of how Iowa’s federal candidates are closing out their campaigns, Starting Line rounded up their latest ads.
In the hotly contested race for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat, both candidates are closing with minute-long ads that mix the personal and political.
Greenfield appeals to Iowans’ can-do spirit during “tough times,” talking about the struggles of growing up on a farm during the economic crisis of the 1980s and losing her first husband when she was a young mother.
“Independence and hard work are things I learned early on,” Greenfield says. “On the farm, my dad always said ‘there’s no boy jobs or girl jobs, just jobs that need to get done.’ Well, there’s an awful lot that needs fixin’ and Washington’s too broken to do it. And Joni Ernst, she’s become part of the problem, while I’ll work with anyone, Democrat or Republican, to get things done.”
My dad always said, there's no boy jobs or girl jobs, just jobs that need to get done.
— Theresa Greenfield (@GreenfieldIowa) October 27, 2020
Greenfield said she “will stand up to my own party leaders to what’s right for Iowa.”
Ernst also tells voters how her life experiences, from serving in the military and raising a daughter to overcoming sexual assault and domestic abuse, have shaped her as a leader.
“I’ve added a few years and some gray hair, but through it all I’ve been inspired by you,” Ernst says. “When the floodwaters rise, so too, does Iowa. When the storms hit home, Iowa fights back together. Our challenges may change but one thing never will; Iowa is the greatest place in America to call home.”
Iowa House District 1
Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer’s closing ad echoes the message of hard work and decency she has championed since first getting elected in 2015 to serve in the Iowa Legislature.
“I grew up right here in Iowa, believing that if you worked hard you could make a good living and have a good life,” Finkenauer says in a direct-to-camera ad with crop fields and fall foliage in the background. “I know folks are struggling right now, but Iowans are working together to lift each other up.”
Iowans’ bipartisan spirit “drives me every day to work across party lines and get things done,” Finkenauer says. “I’ll never give up trying to make life better for our families.”
Ashley Hinson and Finkenauer served together for a time in the state House of Representatives. Hinson, of Marion, represents House District 67 and in a closing ad said she “balanced budgets and solved problems because I listened to my constituents” while serving as a state lawmaker.
“But that’s not how it works in Washington,” Hinson says. “I’m running for Congress to hold the corrupt politicians accountable — stop politicians from becoming lobbyists, ban members of Congress from using their campaign accounts to pad their salaries, no more congressional pay raises.”
The ad’s closing narrator describes Hinson as “common sense for Iowa.”
Iowa House District 2
The race for an open seat in Eastern and Southeast Iowa is one of the most competitive in the nation, with both sides believing they are best positioned to send their candidate to Congress. Democrat Rita Hart and Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks this week released their final ads as they work to win over the voters that have yet to cast a ballot.
Hart emphasizes her life on a farm and a willingness to work across the aisle, while Miller-Meeks drives home her health care background and leadership experience.
Hart’s final ad is set on the Wheatland farm she owns with her husband Paul, who is in the ad, and shows images of property damaged by the August derecho.
“Negative, partisan, political ads never created a job or solved a problem,” Hart says. “Out here, we actually fix things. It’s why after the derecho nobody asked about party, it was Republican and Democratic neighbors coming together to help each other.”
Hart says she “will work with both parties to make health care more affordable, to overcome this crisis and to get this economy back on track.”
Miller-Meeks’ ad opens with a clip of Hart saying she will listen “to the experts” as a member of Congress. “So, why is she attacking one?” the narrator says, listing Miller-Meeks’ credentials as a military veteran, physician and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
“Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks has the experience to cut through the partisan bickering, lead us out of the pandemic, rebuild our economy and get Iowans safely back to work,” the narrator says.
Iowa House District 3
The difference between Congresswoman Cindy Axne and David Young’s closing ads is stark.
Axne, who unseated Young in 2018, makes her final pitch by highlighting her first term in Congress that began with historic flooding in Southwest Iowa and is ending amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Through it all, Cindy Axne has been there: securing flood relief, bringing home pandemic aid, putting us first even when it meant standing up to her party because she knows the promise of Iowa” the narrator says. “We pull together and come out ahead. Now she’ll continue the fight to defeat the virus, put people back to work and protect affordable care for everyone.”
Young’s closer is an attack ad, saying Axne “didn’t even show up” to do her job in Congress and “then took her orders from Nancy Pelosi, playing political games while Iowans suffer.”
The charge that Axne isn’t showing up to work is one the Young campaign has pushed ever since the House of Representatives voted to allow its members to vote remotely due to the pandemic. Axne has continued to cast votes, attend committee business and meet with Iowans while working remotely, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from accusing Democrats of skipping work when they choose not to be in D.C.
Young, who served two terms in Congress, said “the politicians in Washington aren’t getting the job done. I’ll never forget who I work for, and it’s time for Washington to work for us.”
Iowa House District 4
If you live in Western Iowa, chances are you’ve seen fewer ads from your congressional candidates than Iowans in other districts. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is not boosting J.D. Scholten this year, and Republican state Sen. Randy Feenstra had only $275,489 in the bank at the close of Q3, resulting in fewer ads on the airwaves in the 4th District. Ads also have been more sparse here because Feenstra is favored to win given the district’s conservative history.
A recent Scholten ad features Denise and Bob Bjorholm of Battle Creek talking about the importance of Social Security and Medicare.
“I thank god for the fact that we have Social Security and Medicare. I don’t really know where I would be today,” Bob Bjorholm says. “We’re worried that Randy Feenstra will cut Medicare and Social Security or he will privatize it like he did Medicaid.”
Bjorholm said he supports Scholten because “he will fight for us. We know because he’s been to every town in the district, and when he came by Battle Creek he told us himself.”
The latest ad Feenstra posted to Facebook says Scholten’s “values are miles from Iowa” and he “will vote like a coastal liberal” if elected to the U.S. House.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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