US Senate

July 18th, 2013

Hometown Welcomes Ernst to Senate Race with Praise, Hugs

More articles by »
Written by: Kevin Hall
Tags: , ,

RED OAK-There was little doubt amongst the folks gathered at the Montgomery County Courthouse who their choice is for Iowa’s next U.S. senator. A crowd of 75 locals, many of them beaming with pride, gathered to watch hometown gal Joni Ernst officially enter the race.

“I think she would be an awesome U.S. senator,” said family friend and former Montgomery County Recorder JoAnn Butler. “She’s a very genuine, down-to-earth person. Very approachable. She cares for people. She did a wonderful job as a county auditor. She changed the whole atmosphere in the courthouse. It became more open, more friendly.”

Butler was one of the dozens of people who shared an emotional hug with Ernst following her announcement. Ernst’s speech, which was nearly identical to the one she gave in Ames on Monday, was not necessary to sway this crowd. She won them over a long time ago.

“In my 24 years as principal of the school, I would put her, if not right at the top, close to the top as far as all-around, outstanding, dedicated, intelligent. Whatever positive adjective you can come up with, she had it. She was just the type of person that you want all the students, and your own children, to be like,” said Gary Stephens, Ernst’s high school principal.

Rich Anderson, a former state representative who lives in nearby Page County, offered his endorsement to Ernst. He believes she will be a strong competitor in the Republican primary.

“I think she’s great,” Anderson said. “I like her little triad mantra: ‘I’m a mother, I’m a soldier, I’m a conservative.’ I think she’s a Chuck Grassley. She’s a farm girl. She’s happy. She’s delightful, she’s energetic, she’s smart. You take all of those small town rural values, and you wrap it in the competence of a soldier.”

Many in this group have supported Ernst during each of her forays into politics, beginning with her campaign to become county auditor, then state senator, and now U.S. senator.

“Coming from a small community, these are people that have known me my whole life and they have supported me in every endeavor, whether it was through the National Guard or through local government, they’re wonderful people. I feel a deep connection with all of them,” Ernst told

Being from a small town is not exactly a benefit for someone trying to win statewide office. However, no one in the crowded Republican field holds strong statewide recognition. Joni Ernst says the keys to being successful are putting in the grassroots work and meeting with voters across the state.

“We are all in the same boat, but I think by the end of the year, people are going to know who Joni Ernst is and what I stand for.”

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

blog comments powered by Disqus