Branstad, Ernst claim nominations

Ernst wins Republican primary for US Senate

DES MOINES (AP) – Joni Ernst, an Iowa state legislator whose ads about guns and hog castration helped her shore up support among conservatives, easily won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday, setting up a fall matchup that Republicans are eyeing as a prime opportunity to pick up a seat.

The state senator and Iraq War veteran handily received enough votes to avoid a nominating convention in the five-way race.

Branstad wins GOP nomination for record 6th term

DES MOINES (AP) – Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has easily won the Republican nomination for governor as he seeks a record sixth term in office.

Branstad faced conservative political activist Tom Hoefling. Branstad now will run against Democratic state Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines in the November general election.

Branstad was first elected Iowa’s governor in 1982 and served four terms before opting not to run again in 1998. After a 12-year-break in which Democrats held the office, Branstad was re-elected in 2010, making him the nation’s longest-serving governor.

Polls indicate Branstad is the favorite to win re-election, but Democrats hope a series of issues dealing with secret settlements given to fired state employees and allegations of cronyism will tarnish his reputation.