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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 senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Military survivors of child sex abuse deserve more 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 SchumerNew York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Schumer: Trump should not be eligible to run for office again McConnnell, McCarthy accept Biden invitation to pre-inauguration church service 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 McConnellTrump has talked to associates about forming new political party: report McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment 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 HarkinTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers A pandemic election should move America to address caregivers' struggles The Memo: Trump attacks on Harris risk backfiring MORE (D) by just over 8 points in 2014. President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports 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.