DES MOINES, Iowa–The next-door neighbor who Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) threatened with legal action over four pet chickens that occasionally wandered into his lawn said she has made up her mind to back the GOP Senate candidate this fall – a break from decades of pulling the lever for Democrats.
“I do believe I’m going to vote for Joni Ernst. And like I said, I haven’t voted for a Republican since the Reagan years,” Pauline Hampton, Braley’s neighbor, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
The move by Hampton comes days after Braley suggested she was a “bad neighbor” in an interview with CNN, telling anchor Dana Bash “What’s so strange about this story is it’s an example of where, when somebody else’s animals are in your yard, you’re the bad neighbor.”
Hampton said she was “flabbergasted” by Braley’s most recent comments and compared him to a bratty teenager.
“It sounds like actually like an adolescent, if you want my honest opinion,” Hampton said.
“It’s very juvenile for him to even suggest something like that. I haven’t even said he was a bad neighbor. That never came out of my mouth. I just say that he hasn’t exactly been friendly, either,” she added.
Braley has admitted to bringing a formal complaint about the chickens, which Hampton uses in therapy sessions with autistic children, but denied threatening legal action.
However, a contemporaneous email about the complaint quoted Braley telling a lawyer for neighborhood board of directors that he was demanding action that would “avoid a litigious situation.”
Braley also told the lawyer, according to the email, “Saturday evening as I sat on my deck, I could smell the chickens.”
“Without more information, I don’t see that being enough to find that the 4 chickens are causing a nuisance,” the lawyer, Tom Lacina, wrote in the email.
The lawyer consulted relevant law and deemed that the chickens, since there were only four of them, could be deemed “pets” acceptable for Hampton to keep under the neighborhood bylaws.
Running in a state with a large agricultural sector, the chicken saga has turned into a political nightmare for Braley, who was also caught on videotape mocking Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”
Hampton spoke ruefully about what what she described as Braley losing touch with Iowa life after years inside the beltway.
Braley was a “native son,” of Brooklyn, Iowa where they both live, his mother a beloved teacher who taught Hampton’s children.
But now, “I’d say his head is pretty much in the clouds and he is not even imagining what it’s really like here in Iowa,” Hampton said.
“I have voted for him ever since I moved to Iowa – and that’s been 25 years now,” she added. But not this year.