IA-Sen: Harkin challenger speculation thread

All signs point toward U.S. Senator Tom Harkin seeking a sixth term in 2014. He loves his policy work and even passed up a chance to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee in order to continue as head of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. In a December 27 e-mail blast from his campaign committee, Harkin indicated that he will “never stop” fighting for the middle class, even though certain “special interests” would love to send him “into early retirement.” Citizens for Harkin finance director Jeremy Gold sent out another fundraising e-mail on December 29, including phrases like “We don’t know for sure who will challenge Tom” and “Republicans are already lining up to challenge Tom.”

I don’t know about Republicans “lining up” to run against Harkin. Early handicappers inside the beltway consider this race a “likely Democrat” hold, and I agree for reasons Bleeding Heartland discussed here. Iowa’s ambitious Secretary of State Matt Schultz already took himself out of contention as a challenger to Harkin in 2014. I would be shocked if either U.S. Representative Tom Latham (IA-03 in the new Congress) or Steve King (IA-04) gave up a safe House seat to be a long-shot in a statewide race. Public Policy Polling found Harkin leading both Latham and King in an October 2011 survey. A poll by the same firm last month found Harkin leading a generic Republican opponent by 48 percent to 40 percent.

Any speculation about Harkin’s re-election campaign is welcome in this thread.

  • Candidates

    I don’t think he would run because he makes too much money as a kingmaker, but I welcome Sorensen to run against Harkin.  Bartz would be another candidate who could fire up the base and entertain the rest of us.

    If they were serious about beating Harkin, they would run a moderate like Libby Jacobs.   Isaiah McGee or BVP may get a loyal soldier nomination here though.  There are a host of reasonable former state legislators out there that would be good, but their primary electorate is too rabid in most cases.  

    • I'd love to get rid of a current office-holder

      Like King or Latham or Sorenson. I think Bartz is going to run against Amanda Ragan in Iowa Senate district 27, but it would be fun to see Harkin beat him.

      If it’s anything like 2008, Republicans are going to have trouble recruiting a big-name candidate against Harkin. He was chairing the Senate Agriculture Committee at that time, and now he has an even stronger position.

  • I think you're right that he is running.

    I would love to see him stomp King, but doubt that King will run against him. Latham would give him more of a race, since he has a less inflammatory profile than King.  But Latham is comfortable in the House, buddies with the Speaker, and has shown no signs of ambition.

    • King is right-wing but not stupid

      Maybe Steve King likes the attention of being mentioned as a possible candidate, but I think he is smart enough to realize that he could not be elected to any statewide office in Iowa. He only beat Christie Vilsack by about 30,000 votes in a district where registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 55,000.

      Latham would be dumb to give up what he has to take on Harkin. I would even be surprised to see him run for an open U.S. Senate seat. He seems very comfortable where he is.

  • Libby Jacobs

    is an intriguing thought. I think she would run a good campaign.  Tom would have to be careful when attacking her. Libby is a good person.

    Latham won’t do it.  He is lazy.

    King? No, for reasons already stated.

    Bartz would be fun, for sure. He could set up a cardboard cut out of Tom and see how that works out for him.

    Sorenson? Wow. That would be a nasty race.  Sorenson is a bomb thrower and there is no tougher campaigner than TH.

    I can’t come up with anyone who would really give Tom a run for his money.

    • Very true

      I can’t come up with anyone either.  If I were a betting man I would presume BVP would get the nomination if he ran, but he would be a delight to run against.

      John Archer sounded like someone who wanted to run for  something again, he wouldn’t get very far, but I don’t think he would shame the GOP in the same way Chris Reed did.

      Greiner wants to be a player statewide, but she’s too conservative to be viable.  A lot of other names out there that we could speculate about.  

    • could Libby Jacobs win the GOP nomination

      with a sort-of pro-choice voting record?

      I don’t see why she would want to take on this race anyway.

      • true

      • No pro-choicers allowed

        No, she wouldn’t.  She would be the perfect candidate in my view if they actually took the race seriously.  I don’t think the GOP will run anyone like Lightfoot or Ganske (a proven vote getter) against Harkin unless they get a hunch that he’s vulnerable.  

        Christian Fong is another name that I have mentioned in the past, but he is so full of promise we won’t see him take on Harkin.  

        • the fire-breathers

          think Ganske’s a RINO, and he lost by double-digits in 2002, a pretty good year for Republicans around the country. No big name takes this on. My money’s on Harkin getting a challenger on the level of Christopher Reed.

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