Joni Ernst, a telegenic mother and Iraq vet, has Iowa Republicans hopeful

Would be first female senator from state

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On Wednesday, Democrats indicated a part of their plan of attack, releasing an ad that says Mrs. Ernst, a former rural-area state legislator, never wrote actual legislation that cut spending and actually voted to raise it.

Sen. Ernst’s ads are clever,” said Braley’s campaign manager, Sarah Benzing. “It’s important for Iowans to get to know the real Joni Ernst.”

Republicans dismiss such criticism and cite her record.

“I knew her when she was a county auditor [in] Montgomery County,” Mr. Robinson said. “And in Iowa those offices pay very little and operate with very small resources, which set the stage for her fiscal tightness.”

“If a county officer goes to the board of supervisors in a small county and asks for money, that officer gets roasted,” Mr. Robinson added.

Mr. Robinson describes Mrs. Ernst as a “serious conservative not only interested in tax cuts but cutting the scope of government.”

Frugality may be necessary in the campaign though, as Mr. Braley has more than $2.3 million in the bank, compared to her $100,000.

Mrs. Ernst’s appeal seems genuine rather than pandering. One morning many years ago, her friends in college, including fellow College Republican Mike St. Clair, awoke surprised to find she had gone off to have a fling at skydiving.

“So it wasn’t surprising to us that she later married an Army Ranger who made a career out of jumping out of airplanes,” said Mr. St. Clair, now an Iowa lobbyist.

Also, Mr. Robinson, a former National Rifle Association president, says she’s “very comfortable with guns and is open about it, having a permit to carry and shoots regularly. She rides motorcycles, was raised on a farm and knows farming and ag issues inside and out.”

But Mr. Robinson also said she is “not pliable and will be difficult to push around by the big boys in the Senate ‘club.’”

“I think if enough resources can be found to counter early Braley efforts to define her, she will be a good bet to win November,” Mr. Robinson predicted.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Ralph Z. Hallow

Ralph Z. Hallow

Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.


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