Meet Joni Ernst, The Republican Senator Responding to Obama’s State of The Union Address

PHOTO: Newly elected Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst celebrates during her election night celebration party, in this Nov. 4, 2014, file photo, in West Des Moines, Iowa.PlayJonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images
WATCH State of the Union 2015: Sen. Joni Ernst Delivers Republican Response

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has only been a U.S. senator for two weeks, but tonight she will be the face of the GOP when she delivers the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

In November, Iowans elected Ernst as the first woman to ever represent the state in Congress. She catapulted to political stardom with an ad about castrating hogs, making “Let’s make ‘em squeal” a hallmark of her campaign.

Ernst, 44, served as an Iowa state senator before running for the Senate last year. Throughout her campaign, Ernst touted herself as a Harley-riding Sunday school teacher, who also serves as a lieutenant colonel and battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Ernst would deliver the official Republican response to the president’s State of the Union address during the Republican retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Ernst said she was “humbled and honored” to be chosen for the task.

“It is a long way from Red Oak to Washington, D.C., and growing up on a southwest Iowa farm years ago I never, never would have imagined that I would have this opportunity,” Ernst said.

Ernst is expected to hold major political influence in the 2016 presidential contest. Earlier this month, Ernst announced she would host an event called “Hogs and Harleys” for Republican presidential hopefuls in June.