- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst has over $3 million in the bank going into the final stretch of the competitive race, her campaign announced Friday.

Ernst said that she raised $6 million between July 1 and Sept. 30. Of that, $302,000 went to pay off debt from her primary campaign. She concluded the financial quarter with $3.2 million in cash.

Ernst is locked in a tight race against Democrat Bruce Braley. She substantially outraised him in the latest quarter. Braley’s campaign said last week he had raised $2.8 million in the same time period. Braley’s campaign declined to say how much cash he has left.

Full campaign finance reports are due to federal authorities on Oct. 15.

Ernst, 44, is a state lawmaker and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard from Red Oak who has risen from relative obscurity to GOP stardom during this race. She is competing with Braley, 56, a four-term congressman from Waterloo, to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

Iowa is one of the year’s most competitive Senate races. Republicans, who must gain six seats to win the Senate majority, see Iowa as a key race in the Nov. 4 election. Millions of dollars have poured into the race, with heavy advertising spending by the candidates and outside groups.

Ernst and Braley will face off in the second of three debates Saturday.

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