Iowa professors who spoke with the Journal as part of a preview for a Monday forum for Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate seat are in agreement. The people running for the position are not household names, so 11.5 months out from the election they are simply trying to increase their stature.
They'll work to do that by June, when the important party primary will take place.
"None of these folks are that well known across the state," said University of Iowa Political Science Professor Tim Hagle.
Therefore, the task at hand is in "introducing themselves in various parts of the state," Hagle added.
The GOP field will grow from six to seven candidates on Tuesday, when Des Moines business executive Mark Jacobs joins the race. The current candidates are college professor Sam Clovis, state Sen. Joni Ernst, attorney Paul Lunde, former car salesman Scott Schaben, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker and former Senate aide David Young.
"The real problem is that most Iowans don't know who Sam Clovis is or who Scott Schaben is or David Young," Iowa State Political Science Professor Schmidt said.
Schmidt said there is one notable exception, since Ernst seems to have carved out an impression due to some colorful anecdotes she's shared in the campaign.
"Joni Ernst has done a fairly decent job, because we know that she carries a firearm and that she's castrated pigs at her Dad's farm. So that's a pretty good start. If you want somebody in the U.S. Senate who carries a gun and castrates pigs, Joni Ernst is your gal," Schmidt said.
Ernst uses the castrating experience as proof she can cut governmental pork.
The Iowa Horserace website continues to hold a series of online polls of the Republican senate candidates. This week, Ernst grabbed 43 percent to nose past Clovis, who has won many past weekly polls at the site.
Schmidt said the candidates need to share biographical information about themselves as an introduction to Iowans. He said Clovis may not be well known outside Northwest Iowa, while Schaben needs to explain how a businessman with no political experience can be an able senator.
Republican Party leaders of Ida, Cherokee and Sac counties are combining to host the candidate forum at the Ida Grove Skate Palace on Monday evening.
"It is going to be a pretty good opportunity, free media," for the candidates, Schmidt said.