Kudos to Iowa Senator Jodi Ernst’s selection to deliver the party’s response in the 2015 State of the Union (SOTU) address. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proclamation that she was the perfect person for the task is correct. Iowa is a historic battleground state the GOP hopes to capture in 2016. Ernst is the state’s first female senator and the first female veteran to serve in office. 

This whole debacle has had more drama than a Tom Rothman blockbuster. In fact, a year ago no one gave her much of a chance to win the party’s nomination to vie for the open senate seat vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin after holding the seat for 30 years. That changed when she ran a clever ad displaying her upbringing raising hogs. The ad emphasized castrating the hogs as she remarked she understood how to cut pork from the federal budget and make the political proverbial spending hogs in Washington squeal. The ad struck a chord with voters. Late in the campaign, she turned her back on the Des Moines Register because the left-wing tilt the paper embraces made it improbable they would ever give her a fair shake much less an endorsement. Conservatives lauded her actions. 

Still, the history of people delivering rebuttals to a SOTU is not good. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle gave the rebuttal to George W. Bush. He was later voted out of office as an obstructionist. In recent history, ten GOP governors and senators have delivered the party’s response to the president. Only Paul Ryan has seen his political fortunes improve as a result. So history is not on Ernst’s side.