Ernst holds Iowa Senate seat, fending off challenge from Greenfield

Bonnie Cash

Sen. Joni Ernst (R) is projected to win the closely contested Senate race in Iowa, fending off a challenge from Theresa Greenfield and denying Democrats a seat they had been eager to flip. 

Ernst’s win is a relief for Republicans who are scrambling to hold on to their majority in the Senate. The party currently holds a 53-47 majority in the chamber, meaning Democrats need to pick up at least three or four seats — depending on who is in the White House — to win a majority.

Ernst first won her seat in 2014 as part of the class of candidates that helped Republicans retake control of the Senate, building a national profile as a small-government, fiscal conservative. 

But she tied herself closely to President Trump throughout her reelection campaign, even as polls showed his support weakening in Iowa and other Midwestern states that he carried in the 2016 election. 

Democrats sought to recruit Greenfield, a real estate developer, into the race early on. She focused her campaign on pocketbook issues and cast Ernst as a disconnected politician intent on reducing access to health care and cutting social programs.

Ernst at times struck a more moderate tone. She supported renaming military bases named for Confederate military leaders, a position that broke from that of Trump. And she spoke out against the president’s new tariffs, a particularly resonant issue in an agriculture-heavy state such as Iowa.

But she also echoed the president’s talking points throughout much of her reelection bid, accusing Greenfield of siding with the most liberal elements of the Democratic Party and leading the country toward “socialism.”

Tags 2020 election Donald Trump Election results Iowa Iowa politics Iowa Senate Race Joni Ernst Theresa Greenfield
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