Joni Ernst became famous by gazing into a camera and boasting of castrating hogs on the Iowa farm where she grew up.
“So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork,” she said. The campaign ad Squeal showed images of pigs, then came her punchline. “Washington is full of big spenders. Let’s make ‘em squeal.”
Even Democrats laughed. Late-night comedians spoofed it. Few, initially, took it seriously. This was back in March. Ernst was an obscure, one-term state senator scrambling in a primary against rival Republicans for the right to run for the US senate against a favoured Democrat.
Now, on the eve of Tuesday’s midterm election, Democrats don’t see the joke. Ernst, 44, appears poised to win Iowa’s senate race – and possibly to deliver a senate majority to the GOP.