Updated June 4, 1:00 a.m. and 5:12 a.m. | Joni Ernst has won the Republican nominee for Senate in Iowa, boosting the GOP's hopes of picking up this a competitive, open seat in 2014.
Ernst, a state senator, scored a decisive victory over her three major opponents, leading with 53 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 10:52 p.m. She easily surpassed the 35 percent threshold she needed to win the nomination outright and avoid a convention. Former energy executive Mark Jacobs and talk radio host Sam Clovis were tied for a distant second at 18 percent, and former District Attorney Matt Whitaker had nine percent.
Ernst will take on the Democratic nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley, in November in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. This is the first open Senate seat in Iowa in three decades.
If Ernst wins in November, she will make history as the first woman to represent Iowa in either congressional chamber.
Democrats hold an advantage heading into the general election, but Republicans feel they have the potential to put the state in play. Ernst managed to unite a broad coalition of Republicans in the primary, getting support from Mitt Romney and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with Sarah Palin and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
And last month, Braley encountered some trouble when the Republican opposition research group America Rising released a January video of him derisively referring to Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, as just “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” at an event for lawyers. Braley, himself a lawyer, was forced to apologize . In a recent ad, Braley touts his career as a lawyer , fighting for “equal justice.”
The race is rated Leans Democratic by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Iowa’s 1st District State Rep. Pat Murphy emerged from a crowded Democratic primary field to win the nomination outright Tuesday night.
Murphy captured 37 percent, with 67 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. That’s more than the 35 percent he needed to avoid a nominating convention in the Hawkeye State.
The next closest primary opponent, Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon, garnered 25 percent, with 67 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP.
Murphy is now the odds on favorite in November in this race to replace Braley, who officially became the Democratic nominee for Senate in Iowa on Tuesday.
The district, located in the northeast quadrant of the state, is rated a Safe Democratic contest by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Iowa's 3rd District The Republican nominee in Iowa’s open 3rd District will be decided at a nominating convention later this month, after none of the six candidates garnered the 35 percent necessary to win outright.
State Sen. Brad Zaun was the top vote recipient from the field, garnering 25 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP.
This marks just the second time a House nominee will be decided via a convention in 50 years. The last time was in 2002, when GOP Rep. Steve King won the nomination for the 4th District seat, located in the northwest quadrant of the state.
Aside from Zaun, the other Republicans seeking the nomination include bridge construction contractor Robert Cramer (21 percent), Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (20 percent), Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Director Monte Shaw (17 percent, former Capitol Hill aide David Young (16 percent) and teacher Joe Grandanette (2 percent).
Republican operatives say it’s unclear which of the six Republicans will emerge from the convention, noting that the order of where candidates placed in the primary doesn’t necessarily dictate success in the convention.
But multiple GOP operatives warned a Zaun nomination would be a “disaster.” Zaun’s history, including a 2001 police report which alleges that he banged on the window of an ex-girlfriend’s home and called her a “slut,” would not play well against the Democratic nominee, former state Sen. Staci Appel — who ran unopposed for the nomination Tuesday.
State Republican Party Chairman Danny Carroll announced Wednesday morning that the convention would be held June 21st in Creston, Iowa. GOP Rep. Tom Latham's retirement offered Democrats an opportunity in a district President Barack Obama carried by 4 points in 2012. The seat marks one of just seven Tossup contests in the House this cycle, according to the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Ratings.