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Political Mercury

Greenfield positioning herself as ‘feisty farm girl’ in bid to challenge Ernst


Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Theresa Greenfield campaigned across western Iowa in recent days. She met with voters in restaurants and homes and other venues. Photo by Douglas Burns

Win or lose, primary or general, Des Moines businesswoman Theresa Greenfield rolled off one of the better observations about small-town living I’ve heard, a comment that shows she understands the distinctions between our communities. We share values, to be sure, but life is different in Carroll than Creston, and residing and working in Algona is not the same as Cherokee.

“One of the things I’ve learned growing up in a small town is, if you’ve been to one small town, you’ve been to one small town,” Greenfield, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, said.

Case in point: She uses a self-made restaurant guide of all counties to hit diners and homespun restaurants.

Greenfield held campaign events in western Iowa in recent days and sat down for an interview with CITYVIEW’s Political Mercury. She faces a competitive primary in June with retired Adm. Mike Franken of Sioux City, a Sioux Center native; Indianola attorney Kimberly Graham; and Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro.

Prep Iowa

Greenfield — who describes herself as a “feisty farm girl” — grew up on a farm outside of Bricelyn, Minnesota, a town of about 400 near the Iowa border. Her high school class: 24 students.

The family raised row crops and hogs — and her dad worked as a crop duster.

“To me, that was fascinating as a kid, watching my dad soar through the sky,” Greenfield said. “It made me dream.”

“I loved growing up on a farm, what can I say,” she added.

Greenfield said her father was an early advocate for women and their roles in business, on the farm.

“My dad always said there were no boy jobs and no girl jobs, just jobs that needed to get done,” she said.

In event after event, Greenfield, who went on to a business career in Des Moines with commercial real-estate and homebuilding, leads with haymakers on agriculture, suggesting U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican Greenfield hopes to face in a general election, is not delivering for the Iowa farms on which she built her brand.

Ernst has supported President Trump’s regime of commodity-market damaging tariffs and small-refinery waivers for petroleum producers that have diminished the Renewable Fuel Standard, Greenfield contends.

“She rejects climate science,” Greenfield said in Carroll. “I’ll tell you, everywhere I go, your neighbors around this state, there isn’t a meeting I go to that people aren’t talking about climate change and climate action.”

Greenfield said there is a man-made climate crisis and that global leaders need a “woman-made” way out of it.

“Lots of folks just recognize that this flooding we’ve had in southeast Iowa and southwest Iowa, the 3-inch rains that come day after day, the increased temperature rates, that we are gonna affect our corn belt, the germination of seeds here,” Greenfield said.

For that reason and others, Ernst is no Iowa icon, says Greenfield.

She referenced a Morning Consult survey showing Ernst as the third most unpopular senator in the nation, behind only Maine’s Susan Collins, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“People like Ted Cruz better than her,” Greenfield said. ♦

Fate of King?

The question most asked of me in Iowa political circles: How is U.S. Rep. Steve King going to do?

While the Iowa caucuses reporting issues on the Democratic side were international news, some Republican news did emerge in our area.

King dominated a non-binding Republican congressional primary straw poll of active Republicans in Carroll County during the GOP caucuses here. The results were King, 148 votes; former Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor, 13 votes; State Sen. Randy Feenstra, 8 votes; former Irwin Mayor Bret Richards, 5 votes; and Arnolds Parks businessman Steve Reeder, 2 votes.

State Sen. Mark Segebart, a Vail Republican who represents five of the 39 counties in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, says he plans to formally endorse King, R-Kiron, in the competitive GOP primary slated for June.

“I think he’s able to speak truth to power better than anybody currently in the U.S. Congress, and for that reason he’s picked on a lot,” Segebart said in an interview. “I think he’s the best one to speak truth to power.”

House leadership stripped King of his assignments on the agriculture, small business and judiciary committees over concerns they have with what they see as racially insensitive remarks from King.

Segebart said he expects a reelection of King will force top House Republicans in Washington, D.C., to reconsider that move and seat King on committees again.

Segebart said he knows the full Republican field.

“I met them all,” Segebart said. “You know what, take Steve out of the race, they’re all good candidates. They’ve all got the right conservative principles that we do, but in this case, I’ve known Steve King all my life.”

That’s the view of many Republicans in western Iowa. ♦

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.

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