SAU hosts Congressional and Senatorial debates

By Shelby Shepherd

Many students vacated the St. Ambrose University campus the Thursday afternoon of Oct. 11 to head home after finishing dreaded midterms. But the campus did not stay quiet for long.

That Saturday, Oct. 12, the Galvin Fine Arts Center was home to two debates: one between U.S. Congressional candidates for the 2 nd District of Iowa, Dave Loebsack (D) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R), and one between U.S. Senatorial candidates Bruce Braley (D) and Joni Ernst (R).

While both debates were important, the Senate debate was much more highly anticipated. The Miller-Meeks and Loebsack debate was free and open to the public; however those who wanted to see Braley and Ernst face-off had to have a ticket.

At 7 p.m., Ernst and Braley took that stage for an hour-long discussion that was broadcasted live on KWQC channel 6 news in the Quad Cities. The candidates touched on topics such as immigration, ISIS and the midterm election attack ads, among others.

Both Ernst and Braley got an opportunity to refute some of the negative political ads that have come out against them.

“No, I have not signed a pledge with the Koch brothers,” Ernst said.

The Koch brothers, heads of Koch Industries in Kansas, have been known to support conservative candidates and are accused of being high contributors to pollution. Ernst tried to shift that negative association away from her.

“Actions speak louder than words, and I have a lot of support when it comes to renewable fuel and the Iowa fuel farmer association,” Ernst said.

Braley refuted accusations that link him to a former New York governor’s stance on gun control.

“The answer is I’ve never met Michael Bloomberg,” Braley said. “I have no idea what these ads are based on other than fear that I’m going to bring common sense to trying to come up with reasonable solutions to reducing gun violence.”

Attack ads were a high priority for the night because they are so prevalent in this election. Anyone who lives in Iowa has been bombarded with these attack ads. Whether it’s browsing the internet, watching T.V. or listening to the radio, attack ads are everywhere, showing that this race has indeed become nasty.

But according to Bill Parsons, professor of political science at SAU, this is to be expected in a battle ground state.

“In the case of Iowa there’s two things that are kind of going on: One is the population in Iowa in terms of voters political beliefs is fairly evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and Independents, and so when you have an open seat, which has been very rare, in the Senate, it isn’t surprising that the polls show that this is basically a toss-up,” Parsons said. “The second thing would be, at the national level we have about, oh in terms of looking at the polls there are about seven or eight U.S. Senate seats that are up for grabs right now and depending on those outcomes it will decide which political party controls the Senate.”

Right now the Democrats control the Senate, but these midterm elections could shift the power over to Republicans.

Early voting took place at SAU Oct. 20-24, but those who still wish to cast a ballot can do so on election day, Nov. 4, at their designated voting center.

*Originally published Oct. 30, 2014, “The Buzz.”

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