The race was one of the few competitive races in these midterm elections, one that could determine party control of the Senate.
During the campaign, a lot of attention was paid to Ernst’s husband, Gail, whose inflammatory Facebook posts prompted an apology from Gail and a rebuke from Joni.
Here’s what you need to know about Gail and his marriage to the woman who will be Iowa’s next Senator:
1. Joni Met Gail While at Iowa State
Joni Ernst attended Iowa State for her undergraduate degree, and while in Ames she met Gail.
In a speech honoring the addition of Joni’s name to the Plaza of Heroines at Iowa State, Gail Ernst said:
Joni volunteered to work at a safehouse for battered and abused women and children in Ames. (…) Joni would (…) give comfort to a woman or child in need of support. This was accomplished without deterring her from a full class schedule and the ROTC commitment as well. It was at this time that I met and fell in love with the future Mrs. Ernst.
They were married by a Ranger-qualified Chaplain while Gail was stationed to the 1st Ranger Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment in Savannah.
2. He Called Hillary Clinton a ‘Lying Hag’ & Janet Napolitano a ‘Traitorous Skank’
Gail Ernst drew criticism recently over Facebook posts that were made public, in which he called Hillary Clinton a “lying hag,” former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano a “traitorous skank,” and joked about shooting ex-wives (he is divorced from his first wife). He said:
What do you do if you see your ex running around in your front yard screaming and bloody? Stay calm. Reload. And try again.
The page has now been made private, and these screenshots were obtained by Democratic operatives and shared with the Des Moines Register while still visible to the public.
Joni Ernst was forced to issue a statement condemning the posts.
“I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks,” she said. “They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband and that’s between us.”
Gail Ernst said said in a statement to the Des Moines Register, “I would like to apologize for the inappropriate comments I have made on Facebook, which I deeply regret. It is not the respect that women deserve or the example I want to set for my daughters.”
3. He Was A Command Sergeant Major in the Army Rangers
Like Joni, Gail Ernst has a military background.
He served with the Army Rangers for nearly 30 years, retiring in 2001 as a command sergeant major. He served overseas in Saudi Arabia.
The family moved to Red Oak, where they now live in a house that one of Joni’s close friends lived in as a child.
Since then, according to his LinkedIn page, he has worked as a Market President at US Bank in Red Oak and as Airport Manager of the Red Oak city airport.
4. Joni & Gail Have a Daughter Together
After his retirement from the Army Rangers, the couple had a daughter, Libby.
Now attending Stanton High School, she paid tribute to “the best Mr. Mom’ and “the best father around” last Father’s Day in the Instagram post above.
On Election Day, she was on the podium along with her parents as Ernst made her victory speech.
5. Gail Has 3 Daughters From a Previous Marriage
Before his current marriage, Ernst was married to Ingrid Nesbit. She has also since remarried.
He has two grown daughters from that marriage, who are shown above with their half-sister, Libby.