Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is endorsing Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R), giving her race a boost in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. 

{mosads}The endorsement is the first time Rubio has stepped into a competitive GOP primary, and it could have repercussions not only for this race but for Rubio’s presidential hopes should he decide to run in 2016. Ernst is facing big-spending businesssman Mark Jacobs (R), as well as former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker (R) and former conservative radio host Sam Clovis (R) in the primary.

“I’m proud to announce that Joni Ernst from Iowa is my Reclaim America PAC’s newest endorsement of 2014,” Rubio writes in an email to supporters, calling Ernst “the type of tough, no-nonsense conservative that we need in Washington.”

Ernst has drawn endorsements from across the party. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) are both backing her, and she has quiet support from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) as well.

Rubio has been eyeing a presidential bid for some time, and if his candidate wins he could have an important ally in the early-voting state.

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