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Republican Joins Crowded Senate Primary #IASEN

State Sen. Joni Ernst appears set to join the crowded GOP primary field for the Senate seat in Iowa.

On Wednesday, a campaign website set up for Ernst went public ahead of a formal announcement. First reported by the Des Moines Register, Ernst says on the site, “Washington has failed us. We need and deserve better leadership. And that’s why I am running for U.S. Senate.”

Reached by phone, Ernst told CQ Roll Call she had no comment at this time but might have one “later next week.” Meanwhile, media consultant Todd Harris tweeted that he has joined her team.

Top Iowa Republicans took a pass on vying for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, but among those running are: former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, radio talk show host Sam Clovis, and David Young, a former chief of staff to Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley.

Others are eyeing the race as well, including former energy executive Mark Jacobs, who has formed an exploratory committee.

A crowded field could prove more costly than normal for Republicans. There is concern among state Republicans that no one will receive the needed 35 percent in the primary, forcing a convention to decide who will represent the party in the general election.

Rep. Bruce Braley is the lone Democrat running. He’s off to a strong fundraising head start, reportedly with $2 million in cash on hand as of June 30.

The race is currently rated Lean Democrat by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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