Mother, Soldier, Conversative and U.S. Senator!

Republican Joni Ernst will become Iowa’s first female U.S. senator — and the first female veteran in the history of the U.S. Senate — after claiming victory Tuesday night in a bruising, big-money race that remained stubbornly close for months. It wasn’t close on Election Day, though: Ernst seized 52.2 percent of the vote and defeated Democratic rival Bruce Braley by 8.5 percentage points — a margin outside even the strongest polling in her favor. Her 152-day battle with Braley also made history as Iowa’s most expensive race ever. More than $79 million was spent trying to influence votes on just these two candidates, records show. “Thanks to you we are headed to Washington, and we are going to make them squeal!” Ernst told an elated crowd at the GOP election night party at the Marriott hotel in West Des Moines. “Tonight we’re going to take the Iowa way all the way to Washington!”