(Des Moines, IA) State Senator Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak) won the Iowa GOP U.S. Senate primary last night in convincing fashion. With all precincts reporting Ernst won 56.1% of the vote out performing all polling to date. Sam Clovis, radio talk show host and college professor from Hinton, also outperformed polling and came in a distant second with 18%. West Des Moines businessman Mark Jacobs was third with 16.8%, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker was fourth at 7.5%, and Ames sales manager Scott Schaben was last with 1.4% of the vote.
Ernst won a primary that saw low voter turnout. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office reports (unofficial results) that 158,031 votes were cast which is almost 72,000 less votes cast in the 2010 primary, but almost 25,000 more votes cast in the 2012 primary which did not have any statewide elections or contested Congressional primaries.
“I’m proud of the campaign we ran, but I’m also proud of all the energy and passion so many thousands of Iowans put into this race,” Ernst said during her victory speech. “Because at the end of the day, we’re all working to make our state and our nation the very best it can be. Whether you voted for me today, or someone else, I promise you, I will work every single day to earn your trust and your support.”
Ernst saw a diverse coalition of endorsements such as Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, Susan B. Anthony List, National Rifle Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She also had a large group of state legislators backing her campaign.
Ernst campaign manager David Polyansky told Caffeinated Thoughts that they would take the fight to Bruce Braley right away, and Ernst’s speech was an indication of that. “From day one, Braley has been a rubber stamp for the failed policies of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. And if he makes it to the U.S. Senate he’ll be a rubber stamp for Harry Reid. And that’s the last thing Iowa needs,” Ernst said.
“Tonight Iowa voters sent a clear message in supporting this articulate and accomplished pro-life woman leader. Joni has been a champion for women and the unborn in Iowa where she helped put an end to taxpayer funding of abortion and to protect women from dangerous ‘telemed’ abortions,” said Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a released statement. “We know that Joni will continue to be a voice for the voiceless in Washington and look forward to her victory over Bruce Braley in November. Rep. Braley’s extreme pro-abortion views have earned him the support of NARAL and Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider. Last year, Braley refused to support a compassionate, common ground limit on abortion after 20 weeks – more than halfway through pregnancy.”
“While Braley’s loyalty lies with the abortion lobby, Joni stands with Iowans. As both a mother and a soldier, Joni knows what it means to protect the weak and vulnerable. Her courageous leadership is urgently needed in the U.S. Senate, where there are currently only two pro-life women serving,” Dannenfelser added.
“Congratulations to Joni Ernst on her remarkable victory tonight in Iowa. From day one, Joni has run an impressive campaign that has captured national attention and united Republicans across Iowa.” said U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “A mother, a soldier, with a strong agriculture background, Joni Ernst provides just the right contrast with Bruce Braley that Iowans will rally behind. Joni Ernst will fight for farmers, for women, and for the Iowa values that have been threatened by the failed policies of President Obama and Washington politicians who’ve put the agenda of their special interest donors before the needs of the middle class families they were elected to represent. I look forward to serving alongside Joni Ernst next year in a Republican majority.”
Former Alaska Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin who endorsed Ernst thanked Iowa Republicans for selecting Ernst. “To the wise Iowa voters willing to share your home state patriot with the rest of the country – thank you for making the positive difference in our nation’s direction! America needs Joni; America needs you to keep supporting her bid for public service,” Palin said.
“That snorting and squealing you hear tonight – that would be D.C.’s big spenders making their noise in anticipation of a Joni Ernst victory,” Palin added.
Dane Nealson, chair of the Story County Republican Party, said he thought that the Ernst campaign staff did a great job despite being outmanned and outspent. “I think it is very exciting that we have a chance to elect our first female U.S. Senator and the Story County Republicans are looking forward to doing everything we can to make that happen,” Nealson said.
“I think we have a great nominee in Senator Ernst,” Waukee City Councilman Isaiah McGee said, “Some who has first grew up on a farm, has a farm mentality, and that farm work ethic. Someone who has served the country in the military has has been a soldier for a number of years. Has the background and experience of being a State Senator who knows how the process works. I think it is a great contrast of someone who can bring those Iowa values to Washington compared to someone like Bruce Braley who has shown on camera that he wants to represent the interest of trial lawyers.”
“I think Joni proved that she is the full-spectrum conservative that we’ve been talking about this whole campaign,” Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart said. Airhart told Caffeinated Thoughts that he believed Ernst will be able to draw not only conservatives with the Republican Party in November, but conservative independents and Blue Dog Democrats who desire change in Washington.
Matt Whitaker in a statement said, “I am thankful for the support of my friends, volunteers, supporters and everyone else who believed in our campaign. And above all else I need to thank my family, whose love and patience over the last year gave me strength and allowed me to campaign hard every day. I want to extend my congratulations to Joni Ernst, our party’s nominee. Now is the time for our party to unite around Joni to beat Bruce Braley in November.”
Mark Jacobs during his concession speech pledged to support Ernst 100%.
Sam Clovis on Facebook said, “Congratulations to Joni Ernst on her victory and thank you to the thousands of Iowans who voted for and supported our effort.”
She launches a statewide tour along with Governor Terry Branstad who won a decisive primary victory over challenger Tom Hoefling (83% to 16.8%) and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.
Note: the video didn’t fully upload so we are missing the last six minutes. Sorry about any inconvenience.