Ernst challenges Greenfield to six debates in Iowa Senate race

Ernst challenges Greenfield to six debates in Iowa Senate race
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization More Republicans call on Biden to designate Taliban as terrorist group Top Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (R-Iowa) has challenged her Democratic opponent Theresa Greenfield to six debates ahead of November's general election, the latest sign of what is expected to be a tight race in the Hawkeye State. 

"I haven’t heard Theresa Greenfield say one thing that Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE hasn’t told her to say," Ernst said in a video released by her campaign on Monday. "And, that’s not what Iowans expect in a leader. So I’m challenging Ms. Greenfield to six debates." 

Ernst proposed splitting up the debates by holding two in August, two in September and two in October. 

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"Let’s let Iowans hear what we have to say," Ernst said. 

Greenfield's campaign responded to Ernst on Monday, saying the Democratic candidate has agreed to face Ernst on the debate stage.

“After a new poll showing her trailing, Senator Ernst continues to follow Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' MORE’s desperate playbook for other failing Senators around the country,” Greenfield's communications director Sam Newton said in a statement. “Of course, Theresa looks forward to debates this fall — just like how she participated in three televised debates and six public forums in the primary."

The development comes as Ernst faces a difficult reelection fight. A Des Moines Register-Mediacom Iowa survey showed the incumbent senator trailing Greenfield by 3 points, with 46 percent of likely voters saying they would back Greenfield, while 43 percent said they would support Ernst.

Ernst won the seat held previously by Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE (D) by just over 8 points in 2014. President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE won the state by more than 9 points in 2016.

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The Cook Political Report rates the race as "lean Republican," but other polls have shown a tighter race. A survey from the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling showed Ernst leading Greenfield by just 1 point.

Democrats see the state as a key target they can flip while they try to take back the majority in the upper chamber.

Greenfield outraised Ernst in the first half of the second quarter of 2020, bringing in about $1.5 million, while Ernst raised $1.2 million. However, the senator leads with cash on hand, with about $7 million in the bank. Greenfield has $4.7 million in the bank.

Updated at 10:45 a.m.