You have probably noticed that this year’s Power Line Picks are up on our main page. They consist of two Senate candidates — Rep. Tom Cotton (Ark) and Joni Ernst (Iowa) — and four House candidates — Mia Love (Utah-4), Stewart Mills (Minn-8), Alex Mooney (WVA-2), and Elise Stefanik (NY-21).
Cotton and Love were on our 2012 slate, which many of you generously supported. Tom won a resounding victory, and now has launched a crucial challenge against Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, on which control of the Senate may turn.
Love lost her race, but her loss to the well-entrenched Rep. Jim Matheson was so narrow (fewer than 1,700 votes) that Matheson saw fit to quit while he was ahead (or so we surmise). The seat is now open, and Love is favored to win it, though the race remains highly competitive.
Joni Ernst was unknown to me (and quite possibly to the rest of our Power Line crew) until fairly recently. But she has emerged as a formidable challenger to Rep. Bruce Braley for the open Iowa Senate seat held for decades by liberal Tom Harkin.
Ernst is a State Senator and a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. In the first capacity, she helped pass the largest tax cut in the history of Iowa – returning over $4.4 billion in property tax relief to taxpayers over the next decade.
In the second capacity, she served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her unit ran convoys through Kuwait and into southern Iraq.
Recently, Ernst took time off from her campaign to serve in the National Guard. In this regard (and many others) she stands in sharp contrast to Braley, who can’t even be bothered to show up for hearings of the House Veteran Affairs, on which he sits.
Elise Stefanik is another candidate I hadn’t heard of until recently. She was brought to my attention by several readers. In addition to being the Republican nominee, she is also endorsed by New York’s Conservative Party.
Stefanik served in the Bush White House as part of the president’s Domestic Policy Council Staff. Afterwards, she served as Director of Communications for the Foreign Policy Initiative, which launched Defending Defense to fight against slashes in defense spending.
Stefanik was Policy Director for Governor Pawlenty’s Presidential campaign and assisted in Paul Ryan’s vice presidential campaign. Currently she works in sales, marketing and management for Premium Plywood Products, Inc., her family’s company in upstate New York.
The first member of her immediate family to attend college, Stefanik graduated with honors from Harvard, where she was only one of three recipients of the Women’s Leadership Award.
Arkansas Senate — Toss up
Iowa Senate — Toss up
Utah 4 — Likely Republican
Minn 8 — Leans Democrat
WVA 2 — Leans Republican
NY 21 — Toss up
We’ll have more to say about each of our Picks and their race. In the meantime, we urge you to consider contributing to the ones you’re already familiar with and to take a close look at the others.