The state senate seat once held by Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Reynolds will remain in Republican hands. Reynolds resigned from the state senate in mid-November, shortly after winning election as Governor-elect Terry Branstad’s running mate. Voters in the sprawling seven-county state senate district elected Montgomery County Auditor Joni Ernst in Tuesday’s special election.

“Absolutely overwhelming,” Ernst says of the victory. “And I’m just so proud and so excited to represent the district.” Ernst, who is from Red Oak, defeated her Democrat opponent Ruth Smith of Lamoni 67 to 32 percent. The state senate district covers Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Montgomery, Ringgold, Taylor and Union Counties.

Ernst will submit her resignation as Mongomery County Auditor to the county’s Board of Supervisors at the board’s meeting on Thursday.

“And then it’s off to the capitol on Monday, so I will go to Des Moines and participate in their activities. I do not know if I will be sworn in on Monday. It’s dependent upon the State Board of Canvassers,” she says. “If they have the canvas completed — if they do, I will be able to be sworn in with the other newly-elected senators. If not, I’ll be sworn in at a later time.”

Ernst credits her victory to her background and her effort to meet and talk with voters. “They know my reputation. They know I’m going to work hard. And knowledge of public policy and budgeting and taxation — those are all issues that are extremely important to Iowans right now and I think they recognize the value of having someone that had already worked in that area,” Ernst says.

“So, you know, it’s on to a different level; take it to the state government now and work really hard to try and do good things for this district and the people of Iowa.” Ernst, who lives in Red Oak, has been Montgomery County Auditor since January 1st of 2005. She served in the Iowa Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserves and was on active duty in 2003 and 2004.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic