Sen. Joni Ernst formally began her re-election bid during her now-annual “Roast and Ride” fundraiser in Boone on Saturday.
The senator was joined at the event by other prominent Republican politicians. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Chuck Grassley and ex-U.S. Amb. to the United Nations and ex-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Politically, Ernst self-identifies as an “independent” Republican. She has previously called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education. She maintains an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, and has said she believes the federal minimum wage should be abolished.
Ernst serves as the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Jobs and the Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation, and is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, among other committee assignments.
Vice-chair of the Senate Republican Conference, Ernst is the only woman currently serving in Republican party leadership in the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress.
Ernst, Iowa’s junior senator in Washington, was elected to her first term in 2014 by a margin of 8.3% over then-Rep. Bruce Braley.
Previously serving as Montgomery County auditor and a state senator from Iowa’s 12th district, Ernst was the first woman to represent Iowa in the U.S. Congress. She was deployed to the Middle East during the Iraq War as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.
Ernst was elected amidst a Republican wave in the U.S. Senate — nine Republicans won senate seats previously held by Democrats and their party took control of the upper chamber of Congress for the first time since the 2006 midterm.
Every publicly available opinion poll of the race shows Ernst with a lead over her would-be opponents.