Iowa Democrat Senate candidate Bruce Braley has dumped two Obama campaign veterans from his team, quietly hiring replacements about a month ago after Republican challenger Joni Ernst came out of the primary elections strong than had been expected.
Admaker Larry Grisolano and pollster Diane Feldman were replaced by Saul Shorr for ads and Geoff Garin for polls, multiple sources told Politico
Shorr and Garin had worked together during the Obama reelection campaign in 2012 for the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA, credited with helping President Barack Obama defeat challenger Mitt Romney in several targeted states. The pair also worked on several Democratic Senate campaigns and on Terry McAuliffe's race for governor in Virginia last year.
Braley and Ernst are campaigning to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who had held the Iowa Senate seat for nearly 30 years, and could help determine whether Democrats are able to retain control of the Senate in November.
The races is in a virtual dead heat, with an NBC News/Marist pol
l released on July 16 that shows both candidates garnering 43 percent of the vote, with 14 percent of voters undecided.
The Cook Political Report has also moved the race into the "toss up" category
, giving either party a good chance of winning.
Politico has already ranked the race
between Braley and Ernst as the fifth most likely seat to change parties.
Since her victory in the June 3 GOP primary, Ernst, who is a member of the Iowa Senate, has gained momentum in fundraising and polling
. Ernst defeated four other Republican candidates with 56 percent of the vote.
Ernst, a lieutenant colonel and battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, is also ahead of Braley in second quarter fundraising, when she collected $1.78 million, a majority of which was raised in the 26 days following her primary victory, according to the Ernst campaign.
Braley's campaign has been marred by missteps and bad press, including stories about his wife being a legal fight with a neighbor over chickens getting into her yard.
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