In a state flooded with campaign stops from 2016 hopefuls, a blue seat turned red today as voters picked a replacement for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
State Sen. Joni Ernst got 51 percent of the vote over Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) 45 percent, with 75 percent of precincts reporting.
Ernst’s victory not only turns a seat red but also gave the Senate Conservatives Fund one of its few victories of this election cycle.
She becomes the first woman to represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate.
Braley made a series of slips during the campaign, including derisively noting that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was just a farmer without a law degree who could lead the Senate Judiciary Committee in a GOP-controlled upper chamber.
Harkin added to Braley’s faux pas roster with comments made last week at the Story County Democrats’ fall barbecue and published Sunday night by BuzzFeed.
The veteran senator said Ernst shouldn’t win the race to replace him simply because she’s “really attractive and she sounds nice.”
“I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa,” Harkin said.
He tried to backtrack. “I shouldn’t have said those things, I know that. I regret anytime someone feels offended by what I have said,” Harkin said. “But I am only human and I can make mistakes sometimes in how I say something. In fact, I have complimented her on running a very good campaign.”
Ernst, who becomes the first woman to represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate, said she was offended but would “shake it off” — like the Taylor Swift song.