Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) defeated Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) in one of the nation's highest-profile Senate contests Tuesday, Fox and ABC report.
The candidates were vying to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Ernst is also a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, while Braley has served in the House of Representatives since 2007.
Democrats worked to paint Ernst as too extreme politically for the state too boost their candidate, while Republicans capitalized on various comments he made that were considered gaffes by political observers.
Ernst's campaign gained momentum after her television ad -- in which she highlighted her background castrating hogs and her promise to cut pork spending in Washington, D.C. -- went viral, helping her to cultivate an approachable, folksy reputation.
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