Iowa officially has a new senator in office, for the first time - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Iowa officially has a new senator in office, for the first time in 30 years

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Senator Joni Ernst with former Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Chuck Grassley Senator Joni Ernst with former Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Chuck Grassley

Today, Joni Ernst, the Republican from Red Oak, was sworn in as Iowa's newest senator to succeed Tom Harkin, who chose not to run for re-election.

Senator Ernst asked Senators Harkin and Grassley to walk her to the well today in the Senate where she took the oath of office.

Senator Ernst told KTIV's sister station KWWL there were two special things she took with her for this historic moment: Number one -- Her grandmother's Bible. She said her grandmother was a great inspiration to her and number two -- she wore her great-great aunt's engagement ring which had been passed down many times in the family.

This was clearly a major family event.

After the official swearing in, there's a re-enactment with the Vice President that serves as a photo op for the media and family members... and Senator Ernst brought her family front and center.

At one point, the Vice President joked because few people were on his side for the official picture... He said, "Someone come stand by me. I may be a Democrat, but I'm OK."

Before everything unfolded today, KTIV's sister station KWWL sat down with her and asked her about a number of topics, including... what was going through her mind as she prepared for this moment.

"I am very excited, very humbled, very honored," said Ernst.

Today was so much about history and the pageantry, but Senator Ernst was quick to point out, that she also had work to do today... She was already having organizational meetings with committees.

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Iowa officially has a new senator in office, for the first time in 30 years.

In the past hour, Joni Ernst was sworn in to succeed Tom Harkin as a U.S. Senator.

Harkin and fellow Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley walked her to the well where she took the oath.

Ernst told KTIV's sister station KWWL she would be carrying her grandmother's Bible with her for the ceremony. She said her grandmother was a great inspiration to her.

Tuesday morning, KWWL's Jerry Gallagher sat down with Ernst, who talked about her thoughts today and about everyone she's heard from since the election, including taking a call from the president while she was at a high school volleyball game. She said the number was coming up unknown, but they were persistent, so finally she answered it.

"They said, 'This is the White House Switchboard, the president would like to visit with you,' so I felt bad about rejecting the president several times. It was a nice conversation. He said he hoped that we would be able to work together on some issues and I truly hope he means that," Senator Joni Ernst said.

Hear much more of our interview with Iowa's newest senator as our coverage of 'Iowa's New Era' continues tonight from Washington, D.C. on the KTIV News at 12, 5 and 6.

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