Iowa politics watchers continue to chew over the possibilities for the open U.S. Senate race next year. To no one’s surprise, Governor Terry Branstad ruled out a Senate bid this morning, saying he’s never been interested in leaving Iowa to serve for six years in Washington, DC. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds told journalists that she is focused on the Branstad administration’s agenda for Iowa but keeping her "options open" on the Senate race. Many other Republicans are thinking about it too, and only Representative Tom Latham has the potential to clear the field.
On the Democratic side, speculation continues to center around Representative Bruce Braley, who confirmed yesterday that he is considering running for Tom Harkin’s seat. If Braley takes on the Senate race, many Democrats expect State Senator Liz Mathis to run in the first Congressional district. She is well-known among Iowans in the Cedar Rapids television market, thanks to her previous career in news broadcasting. Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque said today that the IA-01 race is “something to think about.” Jochum indicated that to run and serve in Congress, she would need support for her developmentally disabled adult daughter, who lives with her.
Any comments related to the reshuffle in Iowa politics are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: Also no surprise: Democratic State Senator Matt McCoy of Des Moines would consider running in IA-03 if Latham goes for the Senate seat.
SECOND UPDATE: Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix ruled out running for either the U.S. Senate or IA-01 in 2014. Dix left the Iowa House in 2006 to run for the open seat in IA-01, but finished second in the GOP primary. Further updates are after the jump.
THIRD UPDATE. Iowa House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will not run for governor, Senate, or the third district Congressional race.
“No, my commitment is to my caucus, to pick up seats, and to get back into the majority. That is the single focus of my energy. The only thing that is ruled in is picking up seats in the Iowa Hosue.. I have no other political prospects. I have said that for several years consistently.. The focus is on the House..”
Representative Steve King told Politico he’s considering the Senate race.
Democrats in Washington say they are giddy at the thought of King – one of the nation’s most conservative lawmakers – as the GOP standard bearer. They think he has the potential to be 2014’s Todd Akin or Richard Murdock – a candidate who can’t help himself from saying things that turn off a broad swath of voters and embarrass Republicans in races around the country.
King acknowledged Murdock and Akin’s slip ups but pointed to Republican losses by Rep. Rick Berg in North Dakota, Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana and Mitt Romney, saying they weren’t “vocal conservatives.”
“There were a lot of conservatives who stayed home and were not energized,” King said.
Another criticism of the five-term congressman is that he’s spent most of his career in a safe, conservative district, throwing into question his statewide appeal. But King points to his most recent race against Christie Vilsack, the wife of Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, in a big-money contest many expected him to lose.
“What people are forgetting here is, I faced $7 million, the best of everything Democrats can throw at me, their dream candidate, and everything that can come from the Obama machine, and prevailed through all of that with 55 percent of my district that was new,” King said.
I think King is smart enough to realize that he could never win a statewide race for this or any other office. He didn’t even match Mitt Romney’s vote total in the fourth Congressional district last November. He was re-elected by about 30,000 votes in a district containing 50,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.
In a statewide race where Republicans lack a large voter registration advantage, King would lose to Braley or almost any Democrat who might run for the Senate.