Joni Ernst Wins GOP Primary in Iowa for US SenateBy: Brian Powell - June 4, 2014
In order to achieve a majority in the United States Senate after the next election cycle, the Republican Party must win six additional seats. Fortunately for conservatives, fate seemed to be smiling on the GOP Tuesday as Republican candidate Joni Ernst dominated her competition in the Iowa state primary in order to become the Republican nominee in the highly-anticipated Senatorial race this fall.
Ernst’s victory makes her the first female to ever be nominated for the Republican Senate from Iowa. The 43-year-old state Senator and military commander faced stiff competition in her primary race from multiple sources: former energy executive and multi-millionaire Mark Jacobs, Rick Perry-backed attorney Matt Whitaker, radio host and Santorum-supported Sam Clovis, and car-salesman Scott Schaben.
While most political pundits expected Jacobs to present the greatest challenge to Ernst (mainly due to his record-setting self-financed campaign expenditures of over $1.65 million), but it was Clovis who finished second to Ernst with 18 percent of the vote. Ernst more than doubled her competition, finishing with 56.2 percent of the votes.
Ernst was able to run such a successful campaign mainly through the use of contextually-strategic television ads. Her first ad was entitled “Squeal” and featured Ernst discussing the hog castration skills she obtained growing up on an Iowa farm. In the video, Ernst states that she will use her castration skills in Washington to help “cut the pork.”
The video became so popular that it was even featured on late-night talk shows across the country, bringing in much needed outside support for Ernst’s campaign and leading to another viral ad.
Perhaps the most important outside support Ernst received was from former presidential nominee and Republican Mitt Romney. While Romney has directly helped Ernst by appearing in a television ad aired by the Chamber of Commerce and by making an appearance for Ernst on the campaign trail, his more important contributions have come indirectly.
Both Ernst’s campaign manager and treasurer are former Romney staffers. The consulting group Ernst hired is headed by a former Romney adviser. And Ernst has also received much support from the PAC America Rising, headed by former Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades.
Sen. Marco Rubio is in Iowa to campaign for Joni Ernst, the frontrunner in Tuesday's GOP Senate primary: http://t.co/w90FoB6JTB
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 2, 2014
The greatest assistance from America Rising came with its release of a video showing Ernst’s Democratic opposition for the Senate seat in the fall, Bruce Braley, potentially alienating Iowa voters by insulting the most popular politician in Iowa, Charles Grassley, by calling him “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”
Coincidentally (or not), Ernst released her “Squeal” video, which spoke to her farming roots, the same day as America Rising released the Braley video, rocketing Ernst’s popularity amongst Iowa voters almost overnight.
If Ernst wants to become Iowa’s first female Republican Senator, however, she is going to have to hope for much more outside help to come. As it currently stands, Braley has a five-point advantage in the early polls. That, coupled with the fact that he was unopposed in the primary and has a $2.3 million fund to pull from, puts Ernst at a disadvantage going into the fall campaign.
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