Joni Ernst Biography

Joni Ernst, an American politician and former US military officer, has been serving as a US Senator from Iowa since 2015. With a distinguished military career in Kuwait and Iraq, she retired as a lieutenant general and received numerous medals. Prior to her role as a senator, she served in the Iowa Senate and held the position of Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference. Raised on a farm, Ernst utilized her rural background during her campaign, advocating for issues such as the repeal of the PPACA and the abolition of the US Department of Education. Notably, she made history as the first female combat veteran in the US Senate and the first female representative from Iowa in Congress. Despite facing personal challenges, including a difficult divorce, Ernst remains dedicated to her role as a senator and continues to contribute to various Senate committees.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Joni Kay Culver
  • Age: 53 Years, 53 Year Old Females
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Gail Ernst (m. 1992–2019)
    • Father: Richard Culver
    • Mother: Marilyn Culver
  • Born Country: United States
  • Political Leaders
  • American Women
  • Political ideology: Republican
  • Notable Alumni: Columbus State University, Iowa State University
  • U.S. State: Iowa
  • More Facts
  • Education: University Of Iowa, Columbus State University

Early Life & Education

Joni Ernst was born Joni Kay Culver on July 1, 1970, in Red Oak, Montgomery County, southwestern Iowa, US. Her parents, Marilyn and Richard Culver, raised her on a farm, instilling in her the values of hard work and service. She graduated as valedictorian from Stanton High School. In 1992, she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Iowa State University, where she was part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. She also obtained a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbus State University in 1995. During college, she participated in an agricultural exchange program with the Soviet Union.

Military Career

After graduating from Iowa State University, Joni Ernst joined the U.S. Army Reserves. From 2003 to 2004, she served in Kuwait and Iraq as a company commander of the 1168th Transportation Company, leading 150 Iowa Army National Guardsmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She later became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard and retired in 2015 after 23 years of service. Her military career earned her numerous awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. In a 2014 interview, she revealed that she had experienced sexual harassment in the military.

Political Career

Joni Ernst began her political career as the auditor of Montgomery County from 2005 to 2011. During her time in office, she focused on reducing unnecessary government spending and protecting taxpayers’ money. She also served as the local commissioner of elections. In 2011, she ran in a special senate election and won, becoming a member of the Iowa senate representing the 12th district. As a state senator, she fought to nullify federal laws that conflicted with states’ rights and balanced the state budget, turning Iowa’s deficit into a surplus. In 2014, she ran for the U.S. Senate and won, assuming office on January 3, 2015. She has served on various Senate committees and was the Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference from 2019 to 2023.

Political Views

Joni Ernst is a conservative Republican who has supported most of Donald Trump’s policies. However, she criticized his remarks on women during the 2016 presidential election. She voted for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2017 and supported a significant tax-reform bill. In 2020, she voted against convicting Trump during his impeachment trial. She also supported a relief package during the COVID-19 pandemic and won re-election in the November 2020 election.

Personal Life

In 1992, Joni Ernst married Gail Ernst, an army officer who had two children from a previous marriage. They have one daughter together named Libby. The couple went through a divorce in 2019, with Joni Ernst citing her husband’s jealousy and accusing him of verbal and physical abuse. She revealed that she was once raped in college. Joni Ernst is an active member of her local church and is involved in various organizations, including the Montgomery County Republican Party and the National Rifle Association. She released her autobiography, “Daughter of the Heartland: My Ode to the Country That Raised Me,” in 2020. She currently resides in Red Oak, Iowa.

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