Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst said she’s “leaning forward” on a bid for the U.S. Senate and would likely make up her mind on running within the month.
Ernst, who attended Friday night’s GOP Lincoln Dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said she felt buoyed by support from state Republicans who have reached out to her to encourage her to run for the open Senate seat following the retirement of Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
“I’m not ready to make an announcement, but I am leaning forward,” Ernst told NBC News. “I’m feeling very positive, and I am hopeful that I’ll be able to reach that point.”
Republicans have encountered difficulties in recruiting a top-tier candidate to enter the race, as a series of would-be GOP contenders have declined to join the campaign. On the Republican side, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker has thrown his hat in the ring. Democrats have largely rallied around Rep. Bruce Braley as their candidate to succeed Harkin.
Should she enter the race, Ernst said she would look to center her campaign around electability, though conservatives often dominate the primaries in states like Iowa.
“I think we’re all well-qualified potential candidates,” she said. “Who is going to beat Bruce Braley? Who is different from Bruce Braley.”