David Yates Jun. 4, 2014, 2:48pm

WATERLOO, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - U.S. Rep. and Senate-candidate Bruce Braley will square off against state Sen. Joni Ernst, a tea party favorite, in the general election.

Ernst overcame her male Republican rivals Tuesday to claim the GOP nomination to face Braley.

Braley, a plaintiffs lawyer by trade and former head of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, was the only Democrat running for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin.

While Ernst, a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, landed 56 percent of the total vote, not one of her four opponents, Sam Clovis, Mark Jacobs, Matt Whitaker and S. Schaben, broke the 20 percent barrier.

"I'm proud of the campaign we ran, but I'm also proud of all the energy and passion so many thousands of Iowans put into this race," Ernst said. "Because at the end of the day, we're all working to make our state and our nation the very best it can be. Whether you voted for me today, or someone else, I promise you, I will work every single day to earn your trust and your support."

Ernst, who is backed by tea party icon Sarah Palin, will have some ground to cover if she is to beat Braley, if a May 21 Public Policy Polling survey is to be believed.

The poll showed Braley led Ernst by a 45-39 percent margin just two weeks ago.

Ernst's campaign centers on protecting innocent life, traditional marriage, the Constitution and Second Amendment rights, according to her website.

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com.

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