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Joni Ernst shocks Iowa with GOP Senate primary landslide

Joni "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork" Ernst- a Harley-riding state senator and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Air National Guard- surprised everybody by crushing the field and winning the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate here in Iowa yesterday

Ernst got clear majority in a race in which experts had predicted that the state convention- dominated by party activists who tend in Iowa to be... well, a little ripe.... would have to choose the candidate. State law requires that a primary winner receive at least 35% of the vote in order to be chosen as the party's nominee without recourse to the state convention.

Socially conservative radio commentator Sam Clovis finished a distant second. Surprisingly, well-funded businessman Mark Jacobs, who led in early polling, finished third. Other than Ernst, only Jacobs had a statewide TV ad campaign.

Ernst will be an underdog to Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley for the seat being vacated by far-left Sen. Tom Harkin (D). But with President Obama's decreasing popularity in Iowa and the dynamics of an off-year election, the race should be very competitive.

If Ernst wins (and I'm certainly going to vote for her), she will be Iowa's first female U.S. senator- and the Republicans will be well on their way to winning back control of the Senate itself.

ADDENDUM: The unofficial totals give Ernst 56% in a five-candidate field.

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