DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Once a long-shot candidate, Joni Ernst has emerged as a front-runner in the crowded field of Iowa Republicans hoping to succeed U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.
While Tuesday's primary sought to sort out that nomination, Democrat Bruce Braley is waiting for the official start of what is expected to be a pitched battle for control of the U.S. Senate.
Ernst, a state senator and Iraq War veteran, caught the attention of primary voters this spring with ads about castrating hogs during her farming childhood and her proficiency with a handgun. They helped stamp her as a well-rounded Iowa conservative in a field of niche candidates.
The image of a grounded conservative helped her collect an array of endorsements across the conservative spectrum.
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