The commander of an Iowa National Guard unit, formally kicked off her U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday morning in her hometown of Red Oak.
Republican Joni Ernst, the lists three primary qualifications as the basis for her bid for the U.S. Senate.
Ernst joins five Republicans who have either formally launched a campaign for the Senate or are exploring a possible run for the seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin.
Ernst says she's confident she can win at least 35 percent support in next June's G-O-P primary and avoid a state convention fight for the party's U.S. Senate nomination.
Ernst is 42 years old and is a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard. She served as Montgomery County's Auditor for six years before being elected to the state Senate in January of 2011.
She is stressing her status as the mother of three daughters rather than as the lone female candidate in the Republican ranks.
Iowa has never elected a woman to the U.S. Senate, to the U.S. House or as governor.