Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney put his chips into a competitive Republican Senate primary in a fundraising email sent Wednesday.
Romney endorsed state Sen. Joni Ernst (R), who is vying for the Republican nomination in Iowa against former energy executive Mark Jacobs. The winner will face the Democratic nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley, for the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
"As a mother, soldier and proven conservative, Joni has the kind of experience, skillset and discipline it will take to not only win this important seat, but to also take Iowa values to help turn around the mess in Washington," Romney wrote in the email.
Ernst serves in the National Guard in addition to the state Senate, though Romney wrote that she "is first and foremost a mother."
According to The Des Moines Register, the email for Ernst is Romney's first on behalf of any candidate in the country, though he has attached his name to snail-mail for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). The paper also reported that a letter for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will be sent later this week.
Any one of the Republican candidates must win 35 percent of the vote in Iowa's June primary in order to avoid a run-off at the party's state convention.
The Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan put out a statement responding to Romney's involvement, saying, "It's unsurprising that Joni Ernst has garnered Mitt Romney’s endorsement, since they both share anti-middle class policies that put the interests of oil billionaires above those of Iowa’s families. ... Ernst may now have the support of Romney and his Wall Street friends, but that won't win her the endorsement of Iowa’s families."
This piece has been updated.