United States Senate elections in Iowa, 2014
November 4, 2014
Iowa has a mostly closed primary system: voters must be registered with the Democratic or Republican party in order to vote in the primary, but they may switch their party affiliation on election day.
The election will fill the Senate seat currently held by Tom Harkin (D). Harkin was first elected in 1984. On January 26, 2013, Harkin announced that he would not seek re-election 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. 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."
If no Republican candidate gets 35 percent of the vote in the primary, a convention picks the nominee. The nomination would be decided by 2,000 delegates during the convention. The convention process begins in January 2014 with precinct caucuses, which then go to a March county convention, a district-wide convention in April and ultimately a statewide convention on June 14, 2014.
Note: Prior to the signature filing deadline, candidates will be added when Ballotpedia writers come across declared candidates. If you see a name of a candidate who is missing, please email us and we will add that name. As the election draws closer, more information will be added to this page.
- David Young - Former Chief of Staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley
- Matt Whitaker - Former U.S. attorney 
- Sam Clovis - Host of the conservative radio show “Impact With Sam Clovis” on KSCJ-AM
- Paul Lundby: Attorney 
- Scott Schaben: Businessman
- Joni Ernst - State senatorCite error: Closing
- Brad Zaun - State senator
- A.J. Spiker - Chairman of the Iowa Republican Party
- Mark Jacobs - A former oil executive, Jacobs currently heads an education nonprofit.
- Tom Vilsack - Former Iowa Governor and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
- Dave Loebsack: U.S. Representative
- Kevin McCarthy: State representative
- Tom Latham- On February 27, the representative from Iowa's 3rd congressional district sent an email to his supporters announcing that he would not be running for the seat.
- Bill Northey - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
- Matt Schultz -Iowa Secretary of State
- Kim Reynolds - Iowa Lt. Governor
- Steve King - U.S. Rep, 4th congressional district of Iowa
Most vulnerable seats
The FiscalTimes compiled a list of the seven most vulnerable Senate seats up for election in 2014. The seven included in the list are: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Going into the 2014 election, all seven seats are held by Democrats.
Democrat Tom Harkin’s decision to retire after five terms in the Senate provides a great opportunity for Republicans. Early polling indicates that conservative Rep. Steve King leads the early primary field, but Rep. Tom Latham does better in general election matchups. While there are other Republican possibilities, it seemed likely that one of these two would be the front-runner for the nomination.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Bruce Braley's path to the party's nomination is virtually unobstructed after Tom Vilsack, the current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Braley's top potential primary threat, declined entry on February 15, 2013. Vilsack's wife, Christie Vilsack, ran against GOP hopeful Steve King in the 2012 general election for Iowa's 4th District seat.
Gov. Terry Branstad spoke of his preference for Tom Latham to be the Republican nominee for Iowa's Senate seat at the National Governors Association on February 23, 2013. Branstad said he believes Latham would be more electable statewide than fellow Rep. Steve King, who is also considering a run for the seat opened up by Harkin's retirement.
Branstad also made it clear that he expects the two candidates to decide who will be running for the seat without a primary battle. “We’re not going to have a primary, and I’m going to support both of my congressmen. I just think that Latham would be the strongest candidate for the Senate at this time, and I feel confident that he would be a great vote-getter in our state.”
Despite his preference for the strongest Republican nominee, Branstad has praised both candidates. He even suggested that he might support Steve King if Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) retires in 2016 and he makes a run for his seat.
Branstad summed up the situation, stating “I’ve encouraged them to talk to each other, make the decision, but I would hope that and someday I’d love to see them both in the U.S. Senate, but I think Tom Latham would be the most experienced and the strongest candidate at this time.”
Latham declines run
In the message he stated, "However, only 56 days ago I took an oath to 'faithfully discharge the duties' of an office with which the people of Iowa's Third Congressional District entrusted to me. I cannot in good conscience launch a two-year statewide campaign that will detract from the commitment I made to the people who elected me, at a time when our nation desperately needs less campaigning and more leadership."
His decision not to run, many argue, could hurt Republicans' chances of winning the open seat. His place within the party, association with United States Speaker of the House John Boehner, and early poll indications all pointed to him as a formidable nominee for the Republican party.
February 2014 lead
A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling February 1st through 3rd showed a slight Democratic lead in a general election between potential candidates within the state. The poll found a race between Latham and Braley a tossup, with Braley leading only 44-41. By contrast, Braley led King by 11, with a 49-38 matchup. That same poll showed King leading Latham 50-27 in a two-man primary.
Bruce Braley (D) reportedly transferred $179,000 from his U.S. House campaign account to his U.S. Senate campaign, and spent $113,000 in the first three months of the 2013. Braley ended the first quarter of 2013 with $1,004,606 in cash on hand and reported that he already received contributions from Iowans in all 99 counties. He announced on July 2, 2013 that he raised $1.25 million in the second quarter, from April 1 to June 30, and had $2 million in cash on hand.
On July 9, 2013 Republican candidate Matt Whitaker reported raising $110,506 in campaign cash in the 27 days since he entered the race on June 3, 2013. He had 134 donors from Iowa, which represents 78 percent of his donors. A fundraiser featuring U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley in Washington, D.C. is set for July 23.
|U.S. Senate, Iowa General Election, 2010|
|Republican||Chuck Grassley Incumbent||64.4%||718,215|
|U.S. Senate, Iowa General Election, 2008|
|Republican||Tom Harkin Incumbent||62.7%||941,665|
- United States House of Representatives elections in Iowa, 2014
- United States Senate elections, 2014
- BP News: Iowa GOP facing a potentially messy primary for U.S. Senate in 2014
- USA Today "Iowa Sen. Harkin will not seek re-election," January 26, 2013
- Roll Call "Rare Convention Presents Hurdle in Iowa Senate Race" Accessed July 9, 2013
- The Iowa Republican, "Grassley Chief of Staff David Young set to enter U.S. Senate race," May 23, 2013
- Washington Post "Northey won’t run for Iowa Senate seat, hopes Steve King will" Accessed May 2, 2013
- KMALand, "Ernst still undecided on Senate bid," May 23, 2013
- Des Moines Register, "Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker pursues open Senate seat," May 6, 2013
- Roll Call "Matt Whitaker Announces Senate Campaign Team #IASEN | Shop Talk" Accessed June 11, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Sioux City radio host to reveal U.S. Senate intentions Monday" Accessed June 7, 2013
- The Gazette, "Sioux City radio host considering U.S. Senate run," May 23, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Sioux City radio host Sam Clovis joins U.S. Senate race" Accessed June 12, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Senate candidate David Young: Bruce Braley is ‘vulnerable’" Accessed June 18, 2013
- Daily Times Herald "Kuemper alum Schaben plans U.S. Senate bid" Accessed July 10, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Candidate for U.S. Senate suggests African American wife is evidence he’s not racist" Accessed July 10, 2013
- Politico "Iowa Republican Senate primary 2014 a free-for-all" Accessed May 28, 2013
- Politico, "Iowa Republican Senate primary 2014 a free-for-all," May 24, 2013
- Des Moines Register, "Mark Jacobs, possible Senate candidate, hosts education reform forum," May 8, 2013
- The Des Moines Register, "Vilsack will not seek U.S. Senate seat in 2014," February 15, 2013
- Globe Gazette "Loesback won't seek U.S. Senate seat" Accessed May 31, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Iowa House Democratic Leader McCarthy “absolutely” won’t seek higher office" Accessed May 31, 2013
- The Hill "Rep. Latham won't run for Senate" accessed February 28, 2013
- Radio Iowa, "Iowa Ag Secretary discussing a run for the U.S. Senate," March 1, 2013
- Washington Post "Northey won’t run for Iowa Senate seat, hopes Steve King will" Accessed May 2, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Matt Schultz flies to D.C. to size up GOP Senate bid" Accessed May 15, 2013
- Omaha.com, "Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz travels to D.C. as he mulls Senate bid," May 15, 2013
- Washington Post "Matt Schultz won't run for Senate in Iowa" Accessed May 31, 2013
- Washington Post "Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds won’t run for Senate" Accessed May 2, 2013
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- Washington Post "Steve King is out. The next phase of the Iowa Senate race starts now." Accessed May 25, 2013
- Fox News "Iowa's Steve King rules out GOP bid for Senate in 2014" Accessed May 25, 2013
- Fiscal Times "7 Senate Seats Most at Risk—Hint: They’re All Blue" accessed February 15, 2013
- The Messenger "Vilsack launches campaign" accessed December 16, 2011
- Politico "Terry Branstad prefers Tom Latham for Senate race" accessed February 25, 2013
- Public Policy Polling "Dems start out ahead in Iowa Senate election" accessed February 28, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Braley Raises 1.07 millino for U.S. Senate Race" Accessed April 16, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Braley has $2M on hand for U.S. Senate run" Accessed July 3, 2013
- Roll Call "Steve King’s Cash Raises Eyebrows, Doubts About Senate Bid" Accessed April 17, 2013
- Des Moines Register "Republican Matt Whitaker raised $110,000 for his U.S. Senate race" Accessed July 9, 2013
- 'U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010"
- 'U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008"