On Thursday Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst decided to skip a meeting with The Des Moines Register’s editorial board saying that the paper has so favored her opponent that her time would be better spent campaigning. This prompted a Register columnist to attack the Republican on social media. But what validates Ernst’s point is that the columnist’s son works for opponent Bruce Braley, the Democrat’s Senate candidate.
The Des Moines paper has without a doubt been at the forefront of criticism with article after article attacking the GOP’s Ernst. With that constant criticism in mind, the Ernst campaign took an extra long time to mull over whether or not the candidate would meet with the paper’s combative editorial board. Ultimately, Ernst decided not to bother.
Ernst spokesman Gretchen Hamel eventually informed the editorial board that the candidate was too busy “barnstorming the state, visiting all 99 counties” and didn’t have time for the paper. Besides, the paper’s position is clear anyway.
“Recent editorials in The Des Moines Register make their position in this race perfectly clear, and it’s one that many voters across our state seem to disagree with,” Hamel said. “With less than 12 days to go, time is precious and Joni wants to spend every minute talking to undecided voters, hearing their concerns, and demonstrating why we need a change in Washington.”
This reply sent Register opinion columnist Rekha Basu to update her Facebook status to rip into Ernst for the cancellation.
“Is Joni Ernst afraid of newspaper editorial boards?” Basu taunted on October 23.
“Is Ernst that sensitive to the kinds of criticisms that invariably come in such a high profile U.S. Senate race?” Basu asked in her Facebook post. “Is she afraid of the scrutiny? Sure, it’s stressful, but all the other candidates for Congress are doing it to get their messages out, including Steven King, the target of frequent editorial criticism.”
But Ernst’s point that the editorial board and columnists of the Register are pulling for her opponent seems validated when one considers the fact that this columnist’s own son works for Democrat candidate Bruce Braley.
Basu’s son, Romen Borsellino–who is also the son of the late Rob Borsellino, another longtime Register columnist–is a paid Braley operative. He has numerous posts on his own Facebook page attacking Ernst, not to mention photos showing him wearing a Braley T-Shirt and shaking hands with the Democrat candidate himself.
Further, Breitbart has obtained pay stubs showing that Romen was paid several thousand dollars by the Braley campaign, proving that the son of the Register’s star columnist is a paid Braley operative.
All this tends to give some weight to Ernst’s claim that the editorial board has sold out to her opponent.
Ernst and Bruce Braley are in a tight race in Iowa, but recent polls have shown Ernst pulling away from the Democrat.
Democrat Braley has his own troubles. Earlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama kept mispronouncing his name, calling him “Bailey” instead of Braley.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.