Joni Ernst Wins Senate Election, First Woman To Represent Iowa In Congress

Robert Jonathan - Author

Nov. 6 2014, Updated 4:28 a.m. ET

Joni Ernst is the new U.S. Senator from Iowa.

Ernst, a conservative state senator and Tea Party favorite, is the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress and also the first female military veteran in the U.S. Senate.

The Republican easily defeated trial lawyer and Democrat Congressman Bruce Braley in yesterday’s midterm election.

Ernst is a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard and former U.S. Army Reservist who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ernst was even absent from the campaign trail over the summer when she was deployed for active duty annual training.

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She started as an underdog in the multi-candidate GOP primary, that is until she released her famous ad about growing up “castrating hogs on an Iowa farm,” a life experience Ernst claimed in the commercial would allow her to cut the pork and make the big spenders in Washington squeal. She won the June primary in a landslide before defeating Braley by about eight points when the general election votes were counted last night.

Reacting to the Ernst victory, The Des Moines Registerexplained, “Ernst, a 44-year-old state senator and military commander from Red Oak, rose from near anonymity to national fame to take out a rival who was regarded by Iowa Democrats as close to an incumbent — a sitting member of Congress and the protege of the current officeholder, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.”

You may recall that as the campaign wound down, Harkin compared Ernst to Taylor Swift, a comment that was deemed sexist across the political spectrum.

About last night’s results in Iowa, The Daily Beastexplained that “Ernst’s win marks a major accomplishment for the GOP in Iowa, a purple state that had long been considered to be slowly creeping blue. Republicans had long been intimidated by a strong Democratic turnout effort, which relied on using absentee ballots to turn out marginal voters and propel them to victory… Braley’s loss also marks a major embarrassment for Democrats. The seat was once considered to be relatively safe. Braley had long been the presumptive heir to Sen. Tom Harkin, a progressive icon who made a career dispatching formidable Republican challengers on Election Day.”

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Braley’s campaign was marred by gaffes, such as mocking Charles Grassley, Iowa’s well-respected senior U.S. Senator, for being a farmer. During the federal government shutdown, Bruce Braley also got into hot water for complaining about the lack of towels in the House gym.

Bill and Hillary Clinton campaigned for Braley to no avail.

In Tuesday’s election, Republican businessman Rod Blum captured the House seat that Braley vacated to run against Ernst, narrowly defeating career politician Pat Murphy.

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With a successful campaign slogan of “mother, soldier, conservative,” Joni Ernst has launched “herself into the stratosphere of political celebrity,” MSNBC claimed. The same likely could be said of Mia Love, Utah’s new Congresswoman, the first black Republican female elected to the U.S. House.

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