First stump

State Rep. Joni Ernst used her first public appearance in Fort Dodge Friday to attack her opponent in the race for Iowa’s United States Senate seat as a liberal trial lawyer who’s out-of-touch with the conservative values she represents.

“Unfortunately, we have a large group of liberals in Washington, D.C., including Bruce Braley, that believe that government is the solution to every problem,” the Republican from Red Oak said. “I don’t buy into that.”

She faces Braley, a Democratic U.S. representative from Waterloo, in the November general election. The winner of that contest will replace U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who will retire when his term expires in January.

Ernst joined Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Adam Gregg, a new candidate for Iowa attorney general, at a campaign rally in the Webster County Republican headquarters, 900 Central Ave. About 75 people attended.

Ernst said that in Congress, Braley voted for a plan to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, commonly called cap and trade, that she said would hurt Iowa businesses. She said he also voted for tax increases and the health care reform championed by President Barack Obama.

The candidate said that Braley “votes nearly 100 percent of the time with Nancy Pelosi,” the House Democratic leader from California. She suggested that if Braley is elected to the Senate, he will be “another rubberstamp” for the Democratic Party and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

According to Ernst, the unemployment rate in Iowa is about 4 percent while nationwide it’s about 6.3 percent.

“Our Iowa way is working,” she said. “The Washington way, the Bruce Braley way, is not working. So we have got to get government out of the way, let the job creators do the business of creating jobs. Let’s get America back on the right track.”

Following the rally, Ernst declined to answer any questions from The Messenger.

“Bruce Braley fights for Iowa,” Jeff Giertz, a spokesman for Braley, said Friday afternoon. “It’s no wonder that Sen. Ernst wants to mislead Iowans about Bruce Braley’s record because her views are out of step with working Iowans. Sen. Ernst’s views are in line with her out-of-state special interest backers and not working families.”

During his remarks, Branstad said people will see smaller property tax bills starting this summer as a result of a tax cut he pushed through the Legislature. He also touted the Home Base Iowa initiative, a package of bills intended to draw military veterans to the state. It includes eliminating the state income tax on military retirement pay.

Branstad said his administration worked to bring Cargill and CJ BioAmerica to Webster County. Both companies have plants located in the ag industrial park west of Fort Dodge called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

“It’s not over because Cargill intends to have quite a bioscience complex here and there’ll be other companies that will be joining them,” he said. “It’s going to be a great thing for Fort Dodge.”

He added that he’s working with Cargill “on other things that can be done.”

The governor said he’s working on a transportation project that will “help encourage additional development here in Fort Dodge.”

After the rally, he said that project involves roads that will lead to a new industrial park on the city’s east side. He described the park as “just one more avenue for economic development.”

Last month, the Iowa Transportation Commission awarded Fort Dodge a $1,450,268 Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy grant to help pay for extending First Avenue South and South 42nd Street into the area of the proposed industrial park.

Early in the rally, Reynolds said Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped 4 percent since she and Branstad took office.

“We today in Iowa have a robust, growing economy creating quality jobs,” she said. “More Iowans are working today that at any other time in our state’s history and that’s something we can be proud of.”

Tim Kraayenbrink, the Fort Dodge man who is the Republican nominee in state Senate District 5, introduced the other candidates. He faces state Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, in the race to represent a district that includes Calhoun, Humboldt and Pocahontas counties plus most of Webster County.