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Fri May 22, 2020, 12:58 AM

Eddie Mauro defends 'negative' poll questions about challengers for Iowa U.S. Senate seat

Poll touches on Theresa Greenfield's 2018 campaign manager's conduct, Michael Franken's million-dollar Virginia home


The four Iowa Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate — Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield and Eddie Mauro — are shown at an April 19 online forum. The candidates will have their first in-person debate May 18 at the Iowa PBS studio in Johnston. (Screengrab)

Candidates in the race for the Iowa Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate are jockeying for poll position. A poll released last week showed Theresa Greenfield in a virtual dead heat with Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, 43 percent to 42 percent. Now Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro has a poll showing that in a general election contest, he’s tied with Ernst, 42 percent to 42 percent. In addition to the Mauro-Ernst question, RABA Research, whose founders include a strategist for the Ernst campaign and President Barack Obama’s Iowa campaign director, asked likely general election voters about the vulnerabilities of other Democrats running in the June 2 primary election.

Specifically, the pollster asked about Greenfield’s U.S. House bid in 2018. She failed to get on the ballot because her campaign manager was charged with felony election misconduct. Voters also were asked whether general election voters might have a problem supporting Michael Franken, who has voted in Iowa only twice in 30 years and has a million-dollar home in Virginia. In both cases, more than half of those polled said that information gave them doubts. In Greenfield’s case, 44 percent had “serious doubts” and 23 percent had “some doubts.” On the question of Franken’s residency, the results were 68 percent “serious” and 10 percent “some” doubts.

The Greenfield campaign, which has accused Mauro of running a “false, negative smear campaign,” and the Franken campaign criticized Mauro’s negative strategy when Democrats are uniting to defeat Ernst, whom they see as vulnerable this year. Ernst’s favorables have fallen to 47 percent, and Cook Political Report recently downgraded the race from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican.” The Mauro campaign defended the questions as valid because Democrats “cannot pretend that the Ernst campaign does not already recognize these negatives,” according to spokesman Keegan Brown. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has produced a video on those topics.

“The point of a primary is to vet candidates and make sure they can go toe to toe with their challenger in the general,” Brown said. “If the negatives are too much of a problem in the primary, they will certainly be the death knell to any campaign in the general. “Just because Greenfield was handpicked by Schumer does not mean she is the anointed candidate,” he said, referring to the Des Moines real estate executive who is being backed by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York. Franken, who grew up in northwest Iowa and retired as a three-star admiral after 37 years in the Navy, is running an issues-based campaign on health care, lowering prescription drug costs and taking on special interests, spokesman Aaron Slutkin said.


this doesn't pass the smell test.

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