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Photo credit: braleychicken.com

Harry Reid and the DSCC have a big problem. The group of Senate candidates they recruited is looking worse and worse.

They have been described as "weak, inexperienced & wandering." Just yesterday, John Walsh (who'd been called the "perfect candidate" by the DSCC) dropped out of the race.

Another candidate, Bruce Braley — whom the DSCC has repeatedly referred to as "great" — has continued to implode. His blunders are making some question whether he might be an even worse candidate than Senator Walsh.

In a must-read story in the Washington Post, Phil Rucker explained that "In Iowa, a dispute over neighbor’s chickens threatens Braley’s Senate bid."

Braley is already battling a perception problem that he's an out-of-touch, elitist trial lawyer who mocks farmers. He has also angered his neighbors by threatening a contentious legal battle involving a neighbor and her four therapeutic hens — who help children with mental health and communication issues. His neighbor, Pauline M. Hampton, is a licensed therapist and U.S. Air Force veteran (and a registered Democrat).

Braley's actions stunned Terry Maxfield, secretary of the homeowners' board: "I think it was petty. For someone with a higher education like that, it was petty. It was a waste of resources and money.”

Bill Nagle, an association board member, was also shocked: “It’s stupid that it went this far. Any reasonable person would have talked to their neighbor in a reasonable fashion instead. For being brought up on a farm, he sure has lost his rural, farm values.”

Nagle also spoke about Braley to the Washington Post:

"Buddy, we’re here in Iowa. We talk like men here and we act like men," he said. "Usually, a man’s word is like gold. A handshake is a contract. Neighbors are neighbors, and if you’ve got a problem with your neighbor, you talk it out."
Making matters worse, Braley appears to have been less than honest when questioned by the Post:

At no time did I ever — ever — threaten a lawsuit or threaten litigation. Never ... This was a personal dispute between my wife and a neighbor because chickens were on our property all the time.
The problem with Braley's explanation is that the original report undercuts him:

Braley’s wife Carolyn attended a May 8 meeting of the Holiday Lake Owner’s Association to complain about the fowl. The dispute escalated, causing the association to incur nearly $1,700 in legal fees after Braley called the association’s attorney with an implied threat of legal action.
So how did the dispute escalate? The Iowa Republican explained:

Before the 30 day window closed for Hampton to rectify the problem, Braley called Grinnell attorney Thomas A. Lacina, a partner at Charnetski, Lacina & Clower, LLP, and issued a veiled threat to litigate the matter. To resolve the dispute, Lacina billed the association $1,692, according to budget documents reviewed by board members at their July 10 meeting.
Only attorney Tom Lacina and Bruce Braley know what happened on that phone call. Lacina wrote that Braley wanted to "avoid a litigious situation." Since the association certainly wasn't going to sue, it seems that the only explanation for wanting to "avoid a litigious situation" would be if Bruce Braley threatened a lawsuit, or actually sued.

Braley had better think very carefully about his explanation. This is a story that cements his image as an arrogant, elitist trial lawyer who is anything but Iowa nice.

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Bill Murphy | August 08, 2014 |
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Paid for by NRSC. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. www.NRSC.org