Iowa candidates make pitch to veterans

Iowa Senate hopefuls Rep. Bruce Braley (D) and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) have released new television ads touting their work on behalf of U.S. service members and veterans.

The military has become a key issue in the increasingly close race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

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Ernst, a Lt. Colonel and battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, has slammed Braley for missing several hearings of the committee that oversees the Veterans Affairs Department, which has been plagued by scandals over patient wait times.

His latest ad seeks to combat that characterization. Titled “My Daughter," it features Dubuque resident Jesse James, father of the late Holley Lynn James, an Army nurse, who was murdered by her husband, a Marine, while stationed in North Carolina in 2008.

“One day Bruce Braley came to see me and said that he wanted to introduce a bill that would help people who were victims of sexual assault in the military and he would like to name the bill after my daughter,” James says in the 60-second spot.

“When Holley was murdered, what I was more afraid of than anything is that the world would go on and it would be as though Holley never existed. Bruce Braley helped keep that memory alive and adds more permanence to Holley,” he says.

Congress did not approve the legislation, named the Holley Lynn James Act, but provisions of the measure were incorporated into a set of Defense Department directives, according to Braley’s campaign.

In her own new 30-second ad, called “Service,” Ernst trumpets her time in the military both at home and overseas.

“During emergencies like floods, people don’t ask if you’re Republican or Democrat. They just need help,” she says, in reference to the natural disasters that sometimes strike the Hawkeye State.

“Leading convoys into Baghdad, I focused on one thing: complete our mission, and bring every one of my soldiers home. And that’s what we did,” she adds. 

In a statement campaign spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel said “Joni has lived a life of service.”