Longtime U.S. Senator from Iowa Tom Harkin won't seek re-election

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January 31, 2013

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin

By Greg Janetka

CUMMING, Iowa: On Saturday, Tom Harkin (D) announced that he would not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate once his current term expires. Upon his retirement, he will have served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. Prior to this, he served in the U.S. House for ten years. Harkin was first elected in 1984, making him seventh in overall seniority and fourth among Democrats. He told USA Today, "I have mixed feelings. You know what, it's somebody else's turn. To walk away from this position and this power is not an easy thing. But I think it's the right thing."[1][2]

As soon as Harkin announced his retirement the question became who would run for the seat. Here's the major names that have been tossed around and what they have said:

Democratic Party Democrats

  • Rep. Bruce Braley: Democrats quickly circled around Braley and he is expected to announce his candidacy for the open seat tomorrow. He is meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet today.[3]

Republican Party Republicans

  • Gov. Terry Branstad: In no uncertain term, Branstad clearly stated he has no interest in the seat. "I don't want to go to Washington, D.C. I don't want to spend time there. I don't mind visiting the place ... but I love this state. I love this state and I don't want to spend six years in Washington, D.C," he stated.[4]
  • Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds: Iowa is one of only four states to have never elected a woman to Congress. Reynolds said her focus is on her work with Gov. Branstad in Iowa but is keeping her options open.[5]
  • Rep. Steve King: Prior to Harkin's announcement King said he was considering a run for the Senate. The main question is does the conservative King have a chance at winning the seat? When asked last November, Gov. Branstad said he didn't think King could win in Eastern Iowa.[6] On Monday King said, “It’s going to take some time to be able to determine what level of support would be out there.”[7]
  • Rep. Tom Latham: According to his chief of staff, James Carstensen, Latham's weighing his options and “all doors are open." Latham is seen by most as having a better chance to win statewide than King.[7]


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