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When Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin announced his retirement in 2014, the party didn’t think that they would have a problem holding the seat. They immediately coalesced around then-U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, who didn’t face primary opposition. Republicans faced a five-way primary. Joni Ernst, a state Senator at the time, wasn’t well known and was overshadowed by more conservative and better-funded challengers, including one who self-funded his campaign, but television ads that were a bit quirky and defined her as a true daughter of Iowa (remember castrating hogs?) propelled Ernst to the nomination with an impressive 56 percent of the vote. She beat Braley in the general election, 52 percent to 44 percent, despite being outspent. Ernst’s election marked the first time in nearly three decades that Iowa did not have a Democrat in the U.S. Senate. Democrats hope to make this a competitive race, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign committee has endorsed businesswoman Theresa Greenfield. While the DSCC’s endorsement generally clears the field of competition, other Democrats aren’t

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