(CNN) – Republican Senate hopeful Joni Ernst got a boost Sunday with the endorsement of The Des Moines Register in Iowa.
Ahead of the state's GOP primary on June 3, the newspaper's editorial board argued Ernst, a state senator, is a "smart, well-prepared candidate who can wrestle with the details of public policy from a conservative perspective without seeming inflexible."
Ernst is facing four opponents in the GOP primary. She has recently emerged as a top contender and made national headlines with unusual TV ads - one of which highlighted her hog-castrating skills while another showed her riding up to a gun range on a motorcycle.
"While she might come across in some ads as an Iowa version of Sarah Palin who rides a Harley and packs a gun in her purse, Ernst does not exhibit a Palinesque swagger in person," the editorial board writes.
"She talks of driving a hybrid car and of the values of simplicity learned from her mother, teaching Sunday school in her family church and taking pride in being a mother and grandmother," the editorial continues. "Though Ernst could be the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress, she says she cares about the same things as men."
The winner of the primary will face Rep. Bruce Braley, the all-but-certain Democratic nominee.
Republicans consider Iowa a potential pick-up seat after Braley was criticized for dismissing longtime Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley as "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school."
Braley later apologized for the comments and noted that both of his parents "grew up on Iowa farms during the Great Depression."
The victor in November's general election will replace longtime Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.