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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Electorate and Attorneys

Thanks to the PrawfsBlawg folks for letting me join in again.  Dan Markel's loss has been devastating, but I hope we can keep his mission alive here by going full speed ahead.  As an Iowa-based law professor (Director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center), we have one of the key U.S. Senate elections occurring between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley.  They are battling to replace Democrat Tom Harkin.  Some of you may know, from national new stories, that Braley got into trouble when he was filmed at an out of state fundraiser explaining, in part, that popular incumbent Senator Grassley is a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.  Moreover, Braley elaborated that Grassley may become leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Braley's statements were not good politics to say the least.  In addition, the fundraiser apparently involved trial lawyers and Braley himself is a trial lawyer.  Joni Ernst supporters have run that film clip often on television.  On the other hand, Ernst has at times advocated abolishing the Department of Education, privatizing social security, and has not opposed impeaching President Obama.  During a recent debate, she appeared to move to the center on some issues as would be expected.  Braley did a good job in the debate but did not press her hard on certain matters.

What's fascinating though is that the Braley team has made no effort on television to defend the view that lawyers can play valuable roles in society, even though his campaign Web site does just that.  The Web site mentions several instances of Braley helping the underdog against various powerful interests.  Certainly, former Presidential candidate John Edwards used his work as a plaintiff's attorney at times to promote his candidacy.  Presumably Braley's political consultants (who may know more than me) think the "attorney" word should go virtually unmentioned in television advertisements.  But that has handed over the issue of who is the better person to Joni Ernst, as her campaign has run effective ads about her leadership in the National Guard.  Moreover, she presents well on television.  The polls show Ernst with about a 6 point lead.  Whatever happens, it's sad to see the Braley team essentially abandon any defense of some of the good work that Braley likely did as an attorney, even if their strategy is not totally unexpected. 

Posted by Mark kende on October 1, 2014 at 03:08 PM in Culture, Current Affairs, Law and Politics, Web/Tech | Permalink

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