Last fall, I wrote lots of posts and articles about Joni Ernst because a) she caught everyone’s attention and b) it was clear that she was a rising star in the GOP. Her Roast and Ride event will be bigger than the Iowa Straw Poll. It’s clear that Joni Ernst isn’t taking her foot off the pedal in terms of gaining notoriety. People are noticing:

BOONE, Iowa—It’s a newly created political event, hosted by a first-year senator who’s barely known outside her state. Yet seven presidential candidates and the national media horde has descended on this rural town 45 minutes from Des Moines because the significance of the first annual “Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride” is already clear: amid great uncertainty about which White House hopefuls will choose to compete in the state GOP’s embattled straw poll in August, this could end up being one of Iowa’s most important retail politicking events of the year.

The only modification I’d make to that paragraph is I’d eliminate the words “one of.” I wouldn’t be surprised if it was easily Iowa’s most important retail politicking event of the year.

According to this map, Sen. Ernst defeated her Democratic opponent 52.2% – 43.7%. She defeated Bruce Braley by 95,000+ votes in a state that cast 1,100,000 votes, which indicates that Iowa’s buying what she’s selling.

Iowa is a state that should flip into the Republicans’ column this time. The Republican Party of Iowa is strong. They’ve got a strong, diverse group of leaders, ranging from Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad to Joni Ernst and Steve King. While lots of national pundits roll their eyes when they hear about Steve King, the truth is that he’s got a strong, ultra-loyal following. The presidential candidate that gets his voters will stand a good chance of winning Iowa’s electoral votes.

“I doubt the candidates will win any converts during their eight allotted minutes onstage — all of the activity is going to take place off stage, off the bikes, actually interacting with and talking to Iowans,” said Matt Strawn, a former Iowa GOP chairman who worked closely with Ernst during her 2014 Senate campaign. “What I’m watching for are, which candidates understand this is meant to be a fun, relaxing event designed for them to interact with Iowans? Most of the large events in the state have been forums in ballroom theater settings, not an opportunity to spend a lot of time personally interacting.”

Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry are all confirmed to speak, but Walker is the only one confirmed to ride a motorcycle with Ernst (though Perry has his own motorcycle event that day, and most of the other candidates are working other events before and after).

This is another opportunity for Scott Walker to win Iowans over. He’s already leading in Iowa but it doesn’t hurt to build on what’s successful. At this point, he’s the favorite to win the Iowa Caucuses. He’s got an advantage in that he appears to be cut from the same cloth as Sen. Ernst. It isn’t a negative when you’re seen as a kindred spirit to that state’s rising star.

UPDATE: Here’s the best tweet from the hashtag #RoastandRide:


Now that’s seriously a great shot at Hillary.

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