“Stop them now,” he adds.
The NRSC launched the ads portraying Democratic candidates as anti-police in Iowa and Maine, two largely white states where the message could prove more salient than in more diverse areas. But Democrats say that Republicans will have a hard time trying to distort the record of moderate Senate candidates like Greenfield and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon.
“It’s going to become a matter of can you sell the lie,” said Pete D’Alessandro, a senior Iowa adviser to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential race. “Can you sell the lie that this pretty standard — in a good way — more moderate Democrat is actually a progressive Democrat? That’s what they’re trying to do, and that’s what’s disingenuous.”
Stacey Walker, the first Black person elected to the Linn County Board of Supervisors in Cedar Rapids, said that he supports Greenfield but that they differ on whether to “defund the police,” or as he put it, re-prioritize police funding.
“I can tell you as a progressive that is deeply involved in racial justice politics, the assertion that Teresa Greenfield supports the defund movement, or comes anywhere close to that, is false, and ridiculous,” Walker said. “That’s just not where she’s at. Teresa and I have talked about racial justice, and her approach to police reform tends to be more measured, and I would say traditional, than where folks on the progressive left are.”
Instead of defunding the police, Greenfield has said she supports policies that would de-escalate police training, along with other programs to address racial disparities in policing, housing, education and health care. Her campaign dismissed the attacks as a sign of desperation, as recent polls show the race with their opponent, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, has no clear front-runner.
“Theresa has been clear that she does not support defunding the police,” said Greenfield spokesperson Izzi Levy. “Senator Ernst only pushes these false smears because she’s down in the polls and desperate to distract from her failed record of voting to gut health care protections for Iowans with pre-existing conditions and getting caught illegally coordinating with a dark money group set up by her own top aides.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, however, thinks their ads could be effective at wooing “center-right, independent voters,” according to communications director Jesse Hunt.
“There are a lot of voters out there, especially undecided voters, who are concerned about safe, secure communities,” Hunt told CNN. “They don’t like what they’re seeing from the radical mob that believes in violent justice. So I think that’s something that voters are grappling with as they continue to see cities burn across America. And they see Democratic politicians unwilling to really confront them in a meaningful way.”
The ad also cites her 2015 vote on a bill it claimed would cut police departments by over $200,000.
Like Greenfield, Gideon also does not support defunding the police. In a recent debate, she explained her position before Collins pressed her on whether she would refund campaign donations from those who support doing so.