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

An Iowa Democrat outraised incumbent Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstCampaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Politics and the pandemic — Republicans are rightly worried Ernst calls for public presidential campaign funds to go to masks, protective equipment 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 McConnellFlorida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Schumer says nation will 'definitely' need new coronavirus relief bill 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 blast consumer bureau over student loan oversight agreement with DeVos On The Trail: Anxious, excited Iowa Democrats face decision day Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for final vote on impeachment; 2020 Democrats make final push before Iowa causes 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 LoebsackRep. Andy Kim to endorse Buttigieg Stuck in DC for impeachment, senators hold ground in Iowa Buttigieg picks up Iowa congressman's endorsement ahead of caucuses MORE (D-Iowa) and Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Buttigieg, Sanders ahead in Iowa debacle Biden lines up high-profile surrogates to campaign in Iowa Biden announces statewide bus tour ahead of Iowa caucuses MORE (D-Iowa) as well as local unions.

Though Iowa trends Republican in statewide races and voted for President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report 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.”