Des Moines Register By Brianne Pfannenstie August 7, 2020

A new advocacy group focused on supporting Democrats in rural America will funnel $1 million into television and radio ads targeting Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.

The group, One Country Fund, is the new advocacy arm of the One Country Project, founded by Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. The Iowa ad buy is its first investment.

“Iowa is a place we can prove that these kinds of messages can bring back rural voters,” Heitkamp said in an interview with the Des Moines Register. “And the more we can kind of move the needle and and make the case that with the right policies — and with the right exposure for the wrong policies and the wrong ideas — that we can in fact win back those voters that would return, time after time, people like (former Iowa Sen.) Tom Harkin to the United States Senate.”

The ads — airing on television and radio — criticize Ernst for falling out of step with Iowa values and supporting the president on issues like the trade war.

“In spite of all the lip service that’s been given to rural America (from Republicans), we’re falling further and further behind,” Heitkamp said.

Ernst is seeking a second term against Democrat Theresa Greenfield, a Des Moines businesswoman. The race is being hotly contested as Democrats seek to reclaim a majority in the United States Senate.

The $1 million buy is a relatively large investment for an issue-based advocacy group in a race that is expected to set new spending records in the state. Other similar buys include a $2.6 million reservation from Women Vote! and a $2 million buy from End Citizens United, both of which are backing Greenfield.

According to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics, the largest television buys have come from the campaigns themselves, national leadership PACs backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and national party committees.

Combined, the groups have committed about $79.6 million toward TV advertising during the general election alone. That includes $44.8 million on behalf of Greenfield and $34.8 million on behalf of Ernst.

Posted on August 7, 2020.