DES MOINES – Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa’s Republican, won the re-election on Tuesday, overcame the serious and well-funded challenge of the Democrats as well as dissatisfaction with the General President Trump to win helps her party’s efforts to win a majority in the Senate.
Ms. Ernst, 50, the only woman on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s leadership team, beat businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, 57, in one of the most expensive Senate races in history. America, according to The Associated Press.
With the Senate̵7;s future in balance, more than $ 233 million has poured into the race from around the country – with spending almost equally divided among the backers of the two candidates.
The victory makes Ernst one of the highest-ranking women in Republican politics, helping shape the party’s line for at least the next six years.
“She is now a part of Iowa politics for the foreseeable future,” said Christopher W. Larimer, professor of political science at the University of North Iowa. “The first re-election bid is always the most difficult. Once a senator gets through that first re-election, it’s hard to knock them out. ”
Ms. Ernst used to be the one who smashed the glass ceiling when she was the first female veteran to be elected to the Senate and the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress. But she faces an uphill battle for her second term, in a year where voters even in her conservative nation have been upset with Mr. Trump and rallied. around the Affordable Care Act – and protections for conditions of existence – that Republicans have repeatedly pushed.
So Mrs. Ernst recreated herself. During her first Senate campaign in 2014, Ms. Ernst ran an ad in which she appeared at a gun range, firing at a target when a narrator said she would “dismantle” on Obamacare. This year, she took a softer approach, running an ad featuring her sister, who has diabetes, in which the senator pledged to fight to protect people with pre-existing diseases. have.
When Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York’s Democrat and minority leader, forced a recent vote to prevent the Trump administration from arguing in court to overturn health care law, Ms. Ernst broke with his party to vote with the Democrats. She also apologizes repeatedly as she made a comment in which she accepted an overturned theory that suspects coronavirus deaths.
At times, her struggles mirror the struggles of other Republican stars of 2014 – including Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Steve Daines of Montana, Dan Sullivan of Alaska and David Perdue of Georgia – those who were once considered the leaders of a promising new generation within the party, but found themselves struggling Tuesday to keep the seat. (Mr. Gardner lost his chair on Tuesday to John Hickenlooper.)
Ms. Ernst entered the Senate on the power of a buzzing 2014 ad titled “Make ‘Em Squeal” in which she promised to be as cruel in cutting wasteful spending as she had when castrated pigs in my family farm.
As a member of the Senate, she has spoken out strongly about surviving rape and domestic abuse.
The polls have been tight in the race, with Ms. Ernst and Ms Greenfield locked in a virtual relationship in the final weeks of the campaign – far from 2014, when Ms. Ernst won and in 2016, when Mr. Trump brought Iowa more than nine percentage points.
A survey in the final days of The Des Moines Register’s race found that Ernst led four points.
Kelley Koch, a Republican and a health care professional from Dallas County who attended the rally Ivanka Trump held with Ms. Ernst on Monday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, said the protests Live in the final weeks of the campaign makes a huge difference.
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“Everyone was confused, elusive, and depressed,” said Ms. Koch. “These free protests have been a huge catalyst.”
While Ms. Ernst occasionally parted ways with the president – for example, she opposed Mr. Trump’s tariffs and advocated removing the names of South Vietnamese military leaders from military bases – she often embraced him.
On the campaign trail, Ms. Ernst pushed her relationship with Trump to an advantage for the Iowans. She said she pushed him to invest in renewable fuel infrastructure in Iowa to increase ethanol sales and recently, when Mr Trump told his administration to back off pre-stimulus talks. complementary economy, has urged him to reconsider.
In the final weeks of the campaign, another Iowa senator, Charles E. Grassley, a Republican who was first elected to his seat in 1980, emerged as the biggest cheerleader. of Ms. Ernst, constantly supporting her and promoting her speeches on social media.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, she used Mr. Trump’s election season push to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court in her favor, calculating that the war would be energize conservatives and motivate them to vote in her favor. During the hearings, she praised the nominee’s achievement as a conservative woman to have risen to the top leadership in her field, and argued – in seemingly as for herself as for the judge — that such women are often fired in politics.
However, when polls show she has lost her position with women and independent people in the race, Ms. Ernst also works to allay fears that Justice Barrett could overturn important rights precedents. Abortion, indicated that she once supported the legitimacy of the protest buffer around an abortion clinic.
“I think the chance of Roe suing Wade being overturned is very small,” Ms. Ernst said. “I don’t see that happen.”