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Cory Gardner
In Iowa, GOP's Joni Ernst broke a gender barrier on her own terms
In Iowa, GOP's Joni Ernst broke a gender barrier on her own terms

Joni Ernst's feat this week was one that many thought was impossible: a Republican victory in a blue state that Obama won twice, and the first woman ever elected to Congress from Iowa. Not only did Ernst win a U.S. Senate seat, she clobbered her Democratic opponent by an 8-point margin. So how did she pull it off in a state that has so long resisted making women its top leaders? A weak opponent, a breakthrough ad in the hog barn that went viral, and a carefully cultivated image that female politicians from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Sarah Palin have struggled to translate into votes. Tough, strong, but nonthreatening. Ernst, a little-known state senator and lieutenant colonel in...

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