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Iowa Democrat tops Ernst in third-quarter fundraising for Senate race

An Iowa Democrat outraised incumbent Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstDemocrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Obama to hit the campaign trail l Biden's eye-popping cash advantage l New battleground polls favor Biden Poll finds Ernst with 1-point lead in Iowa MORE (R-Iowa) in the third quarter of 2019 in the Hawkeye State’s competitive Senate race.

Theresa Greenfield, who launched her campaign to unseat Ernst in June, said she raised more than $1.1 million in the year’s third quarter, compared with reports that Ernst raised just under $1 million in the same span.

The Democrat's campaign, which is refusing donations from corporate PACs, said its average online donation for the quarter was less than $16 and that 92 percent of all contributions received were for $100 or less. Donations to the campaign have come from all of Iowa’s 99 counties. 

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“It’s clear that the momentum and energy is on our side to flip this Senate seat, and I’m so proud of what our grassroots campaign has already been able to accomplish to lay the groundwork to win this race next year,” said Greenfield.

“After years of watching Senator Ernst answer to Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE and the special interests in Washington, Iowans are ready for new leadership and they’re saying ‘no more’ to Senator Ernst. I’m humbled to have the support of so many hardworking Iowans as we work to hold Senator Ernst accountable and give Iowa families the representation they deserve.” 

Ernst's campaign said in a statement to The Hill it raised about $1 million in the third quarter and has nearly $4 million cash on hand.

“Iowans are energized behind Joni Ernst and her ability to deliver for the state from securing a strong win on the RFS [renewable fuel standard] to obtaining the long-awaited resources needed for the Cedar Rapids flood project,” said campaign manager Sam Pritchard.

“Joni continues to crisscross the state and ensures Iowans have a voice in Washington, holding 33 town halls just this year. Momentum continues to build as Iowans know they have an effective voice in Joni Ernst who fights tirelessly to Make ‘em Squeal in Washington in order to deliver for Iowans.”

Greenfield first raised eyebrows among Iowa Democrats after she ran for the state’s 3rd District in 2018 but dropped out after she found out that her campaign manager falsified several signatures on petitions qualifying her for the ballot.

Democrats had hoped that freshman Rep. Cindy AxneCindy AxneDemocrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, first lady in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall MORE, who flipped a Republican House seat last year, would launch a bid to challenge Ernst for her Senate seat, but Axne declined.

Greenfield is running against a handful of other Democrats fighting to get the chance to challenge Ernst, but she has worked to get a leg up over her intraparty competition with endorsements from Reps. Dave LoebsackDavid (Dave) Wayne LoebsackDemocrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats The Hill's Campaign Report: Physician candidates lean on medical experience amid coronavirus campaigning MORE (D-Iowa) and Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerDemocrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote Trump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report MORE (D-Iowa) as well as local unions.

Though Iowa trends Republican in statewide races and voted for President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE by about 10 points, Democrats view Ernst’s seat as a prime opportunity to chip into the GOP’s 53-47 Senate majority in a year when the Hawkeye State may be a tossup in the presidential contest. 

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as “Likely Republican.”