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New Web ad focuses on Joni Ernst’s Iowa roots


State Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to supporters at a primary election night rally after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The 43-year-old Ernst won the nomination over five candidates. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The National Republican Senate Committee is out with a brand new Web video all about Joni Ernst, who is running for an open seat in a very competitive race in Iowa.  As we’ve written before, Ernst has had some of the most buzzworthy and creative ads of the cycle.  She’s talked about castrating hogs as a girl in one ad and she is riding a Harley in another ad. Ernst is currently a lieutenant in the Iowa Army National Guard, and is one of the GOP’s best chances of picking up a Senate seat.

The most recent poll by NBC News/Marist taken in July shows the race, with Rep. Bruce Braley as the Democratic nominee, all tied up at 43 percent. Since then, the race has gone to the birds for Braley, or more specifically the chickens, as he has been tied up in the fallout over an only-in-Iowa dispute involving chickens filled with wanderlust.

For Republicans eager to cast Braley as an out of touch lawyer who looks down on the good plain folks of Iowa, the chicken dispute is a perfect catchall.

And the takeaway from the new seven-minute biographical video shows that Ernst’s argument against Braley is basically: I am Iowa, hear me roar.

The video, called “Duty, Honor, and Iowa” offers a pretty good template of what the next months of Ernst’s campaign will be about. It touches on “Iowa values,” how handshakes matter, and how “you knew in the next farm over, there was Joni, someone who is not afraid to show you where she’s from.” As well, it covers her time in Iraq, where she was a company commander in 2003.

Democrats have tried to turn Ernst into “Iowa’s Sarah Palin,” highlighting her conservative views on abortion and contraception, and emphasizing the fact that she campaigned with Palin. It might be a convenient comparison for Democrats to make, but with Braley’s stumbles and Ernst’s fairly sure footed campaigning and compelling biography, Democrats will likely have to come up with a better argument.

Nia-Malika Henderson is a political reporter for The Fix.

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