A Republican from southwest Iowa who has been a member of the Iowa Senate since 2011 is considering a bid for the U.S. Senate. Forty-two-year-old Joni Ernst of Red Oak also serves as a major in the Iowa National Guard.
“Most of my adult life has been service-driven through the National Guard, the Reserves, public service,” Ernst told Radio Iowa. “This is one way to take it a step further and try and be part of a solution to what I see as a problem right now in Washington, D.C.”
Ernst said if she were a member of the U.S. Senate, tackling the federal deficit would be her top priority.
“We haven’t had a federal budget in four years now. That to me is a huge issue, so that’s number one,” Ernst said. “But with the budget concerns and our deficit, then it ties into national security which is something that I am very, very concerned about as a member of the military. My husband’s retired military. This is an issue we talk about daily.”
Ernst and her husband have three daughters. Their youngest is 13 and will be entering high school next year.
“That’s something that my family and I discussed,” Ernst said. “My husband is a very good father/mother when I am away and I have a very tight-knit family also with a brother and sister that are close and a mother that just lives up the street. My father still lives in the area and all are very active with my family.”
Ernst hopes to make a final decision about running for the U.S. Senate in 30 days.
“I really would like for Congressman King to make his decision because if he says he’s pursuing this, I will not be pursuing it,” she said.
Republican Congressman Steve King has been considering a bid for the U.S. Senate since Democrat Tom Harkin announced in January that he would not seek reelection. Earlier this week King said he was “still on the bubble” about the race.
Ernst served six years as the Montgomery County Auditor before running in a special election for the state senate seat Kim Reynolds gave up to become Iowa’s lieutenant governor. The district changed for the 2012 election. Between the two districts, Ernst has represented 10 different counties in southwest Iowa.