Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Tea Partier Joni Ernst wins big in Iowa GOP Senate primary

CC by: IowaPolitics.com

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst has easily won the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, positively thumping a wide-open field of several fellow GOP contenders — indeed, you could say she really made them squeal.

With 36 percent of precincts now reporting, Ernst has a whopping 54 percent of the vote, followed by her closest rival, talk radio host Sam Clovis, at only 18 percent; The Associated Press has projected Ernst as the winner of the primary. She will now face the Democratic nominee, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. A recent poll gave Braley a lead of 6 points, but the race remains very competitive.

Ernst has had some interesting TV ads, a few of which have become viral sensations online — such as one where she fired a gun at a shooting range, asking GOP voters to "give me a shot" at ObamaCare.

But by far, her most famous spot was her first TV ad, in which she boasted of her ability "to cut pork" in Washington — thanks to her experience at castrating squealing hogs. --Eric Kleefeld