Iowa’s Ernst will run for reelection in 2020

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements Giffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick MORE (R-Iowa) announced Friday she will run for a second term in 2020 in what will be one of the most closely watched Senate race in the cycle.

“I am running again. So to anyone who would like to step up and enter into that race, I say: ‘Bring it on,’ ” Ernst told Iowa reporters

ADVERTISEMENT

Ernst, a 48-year-old Army veteran, won her first term in 2014 to become Iowa’s first woman elected to either chamber of Congress, succeeding veteran Democratic Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinNew Hampshire parochialism, not whiteness, bedevils Democrats Democrats must question possible political surveillance Wisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed MORE (Iowa) after he retired. She said she is looking forward to her second Senate race.

“I love Iowa. I love the people of Iowa,” Ernst said. “We have certainly, of course, I believe, the best people in the nation, and I am very proud to represent them.”

Iowa, a rural state filled with traditional labor Democrats, is fertile ground for bases of both the Republican and Democratic parties. It voted for former President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, but supported President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles Trump on removal of protester at rally: 'We don't want to be politically correct' Trump rails against FBI, impeachment during Pennsylvania rally MORE by nearly 10 points in 2016. Ernst tied herself closely to president’s agenda in her reelection announcement in the hopes of winning over the Trump base.

“He is our sitting president and I do believe that his policies are working for the United States,” Ernst said. “We have seen significant growth in our economy and if you ask folks out there, you know, what is the No. 1 issue out there, most Iowans say that it is the economy.” 

“So I think that we have a solid path forward with President Trump. I think that his policies, if you focus on his policies, a lot of Iowans support those. So I wouldn’t welcome any other contenders.”

But Democrats are likely to put up a fight in the Hawkeye State’s Senate race.

“Since Sen. Ernst went to Washington, she's changed. She unapologetically supports President Trump and the backwards GOP agenda, and continually fails to fight for Iowans,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said in a statement to the Des Moines Register. 

While Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate in November’s midterm elections after campaigning hard against Democrats running in states Trump won in 2016, Ernst’s seat will be one of a handful of pickup opportunities for Democrats in two years, along with Republican-held seats in North Carolina, Maine and Arizona.

Iowa will also be a key battleground in the 2020 presidential race, with a crowded field of Democrats and possibly some anti-Trump Republican challengers fighting to win the state’s all-important caucus.