Harkin won't seek re-election -- open thread

Todd Dorman
Published: January 26 2013 | 11:23 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 10:35 am in

So, how about having a little political bombshell dropped on your lazy Saturday?

AP's Tom Beaumont had the scoop that shook the land between two rivers:

CUMMING, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin said Saturday he will not seek a sixth term in 2014, a decision that frees a new generation of Iowa Democrats to seek higher office and eases some of the burden Republicans face in retaking the Senate.

Harkin, chairman of an influential Senate committee, announced his decision during an interview with The Associated Press, and said the move could surprise some.

But the 73-year-old cited his age - he would be 81 at the end of a sixth term - as a factor in the decision, saying it was time to pass the torch he has held for nearly 30 years.

"I just think it's time for me to step aside," Harkin told the AP.

Just when we were marveling at all our piled up Senate seniority, our "junior" senator decides to end his 40-year Congressional career. I'd have been less surprised to show up at the State Fair and find out there are †no corn dogs.

Harkin says he wants to spend more time with his....yeah, yeah, yeah. So who's going to run?

Whirling speculation on that question has now reduced visibility on area highways to below a quarter mile, according to the state patrol.

First, there are the easy, immediate guesses. Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley is a natural possibility. On the Republican side a lot of people are talking about U.S. Rep. Tom Latham and U.S. Rep. Steve King. Although much of the speculation on King seems to center on whether a run by the party's †far right darling could dash their chances of picking up a critical open seat.

Breaking speculation from WaPo's The Fix:

The big question for Republicans is whether Rep. Steve King (R) will run. The outspoken, staunchly conservative tea-party favorite has at least been thinking about it (based on his public comments). While King has a loyal base, he would likely have a hard time extending his reach beyond it in a general election, particularly in the eastern part of the state. Even Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has acknowledged as much.

From an electability standpoint, the GOP would be better served to take a look at Rep. Tom Latham, a more moderate Republican with the potential for broader appeal. Another name that has been tossed around in GOP circles is Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

On the D side, The Fix also wonders about †Tom Vilsack. Seems like he won some statewide races around these parts once upon a time. Maybe his wife could also run for governor. It could be a Vilsackian overload.

The Iowa Republican's Craig Robinson tweets that former GOP U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker may be interested. Used to play for the Hawks.

Politico seems to suggest every Republican in Iowa might run:

Other potential GOP candidates who might seriously consider running include former Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, Iowa State Sen. Brad Zaun, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, social conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, Republican Party of Iowa co-chair David Fischerand state GOP finance chairman Drew Ivers (a co-chair of Ron Paulís 2012 campaign in Iowa).

Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey could get in, but heís seen as having a better shot at running for governor in 2018.

Thereís also some buzz about state Rep. Pat Grassley, the 29-year-old grandson of longtime incumbent Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. But he could also run for one of the vacant House seats.

And, of course, if Latham, King and Braley jump in, that leaves three open House seats. And what might have been a fairly ho-hum 2014 cycle turns into a Category 5 political tsunami with a side of holy cats.

John Deeth wonders if my own state senator might be interested in the First District:

That Iowa-Mississippi no women thing is huge for party activists. And Democrats are well situated with a potential candidate with 100% name ID in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, and a proven track record of winning in a light red district. And if, God forbid, she wouldn't win, she doesn't have to give up the present job. Say hello to Congresswoman Liz Mathis.

Then there's the race for governor, which some speculated Braley might join. Now it's likely open wide to the Jack Hatches, Tyler Olsons and Rob Hoggs of the world. But it will probably play second fiddle to Senatageddon 14.

This announcement is so big that its implications have implications. †Oh, and there's control of the United States Senate hanging in the balance with races like this one.

Also, one of Iowa's all time political titans is leaving the scene. Here's Harkin's statement:

CUMMING, Iowa Ė Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement on his plans for the future, including his decision not to seek reelection for his U.S. Senate term expiring in 2014. In doing so, he thanked Iowans for their dedication over the course of his career in public service and outlined his agenda for the HELP Committee over the next two years:

ďI have been thinking hard about the decision whether to run for a sixth term in the United States Senate for a number of months - even more these last few weeks. Iíve reached a decision, and what Iíve decided really boils down to two things,Ē said Harkin. ďFirst, Iím going to fulfill a promise that I made to my wife Ruth, and that I also made to myself. It's a promise that weíre going to do certain things together - and that weíre going to live together in a way weíve often talked about - before it gets too late. Thatís a decision I believe many Iowans can relate to, either because of their own circumstances, or perhaps those of their parents. I have the privilege to be able to make this decision on my own terms, which not everyone can, and Iím deeply grateful to the people of Iowa that I do have that opportunity. Iíve been extremely fortunate. I was born here in Cumming in modest circumstances. My father was a coal-miner with just an 8th-grade education. My mother arrived to this country as an immigrant with virtually no earthly possessions. This state and this country have allowed me to enjoy a life and career beyond anything I imagined as a boy or young man.

ďSecond, I'm 73 years old right now. At the end of this term Iíll be 75. When the current Congress is over, I will have served in the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for a total of 40 years. After 40 years, I just feel itís somebody elseís turn. I canít put into words what an honor it is to serve Iowa. And I donít by any means plan to retire completely from public life at the end of this Congress. But I am going to make way for someone new in this Senate seat. I think that is right not just for me, but for Iowa, as well.Ē

I'm sure you have reactions, speculation, etc.

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