IA-Sen: I'm telling you, Steve King is not running

Representative Steve King told reporters in Des Moines today that the chances he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014 are "a little more than 50-50." He dropped similar hints last month and has indicated to the Sioux City Journal's Bret Hayworth that he's leaning toward running as well.

I don't care how many times King insists that he is carefully analyzing the pros and cons of a U.S. Senate bid. He's neither dumb enough nor brave enough to leave the safe confines of Iowa's fourth Congressional district.

A few days ago, Hayworth moved the "King Meter" needle at his blog Politically Speaking from 63 percent to a 67 percent likelihood that King will run for the Senate. He explained his reasoning during the March 22 "On Iowa Politics" podcast. Hayworth covers King and politics in northwest Iowa very well, but with all due respect, the basic facts that point toward King staying in IA-04 are unchanged and cannot change.

Namely, King didn't even match Mitt Romney's vote totals in his own Congressional district last November. Romney lost Iowa by about 90,000 votes. King defeated Christie Vilsack by about 30,000 votes in a district where registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats by about 50,000. The math doesn't add up for King as a potentially successful statewide candidate. He knows that as well as anyone.

Add to this equation that King just voted for another Paul Ryan budget. He even voted for the more radical Republican Study Committee budget, which calls not only for privatizing Medicare but also for raising the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security. The study committee budget cuts most non-defense domestic spending to 2008 levels and freezes it there. The plan is so "out there" that 114 House Republicans voted against it, including Iowa's Tom Latham (IA-03). Just 104 House Republicans wanted to go on record supporting the study committee budget. King can get away with votes like this in IA-04 because of its strong GOP lean, but a statewide election would be another story.

King may spend a few more weeks or months telling the media that he is seriously weighing a Senate bid. He needs to do so to prove he hasn't been bullied by Karl Rove and the national GOP establishment. In the end, he will back down, saying his "head, heart and gut" didn't come together for a Senate race.

William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register today,

He noted that as a construction company owner there were times that he felt everything weighed in favor of him moving forward on a project, but he decided not to proceed.

However, King also told reporters that he recognized that an open U.S. Senate seat comes along only rarely in Iowa, and he would possibly be passing up an opportunity to serve in a place where he could do more good for Iowans than remaining in Congress.

He declined to say when he expects to make a decision on entering the Senate race, but he indicated it will happen relatively soon.

I'll be shocked if King takes on this challenge.

Make your own IA-Sen predictions in this thread.

UPDATE: O.Kay Henderson has more quotes from King this morning.

Republican Congressman Steve King has paid for new public opinion polls in Iowa to test his chances in a statewide race for the U.S. Senate, but King said today he hasn't analyzed the data yet.

"If you live in this state for as long as I have and traveled this state as much as I have, it's hard to be surprised by the polling, I'll say that," King told reporters this morning. [...]

"It's hard to measure political capital," King said. "It comes and goes over a lot of things. It could be issues, current events. It could be speculation and so there's a possibility that that's the case. It's not much of a consideration, but it's a possibility. I wouldn't deny it." [...]

King said there "won't be a better" chance for him to run for the U.S. Senate than in 2014.

"I've never wanted to be the guy who looked back and said: 'Woulda, coulda, shoulda,' either, so that's part of the consideration as well," King told reporters this morning. "This is by far the most positive kind of an opportunity for a senate seat that I'm likely to ever see or was likely to see."

  • If King analyzed the evidence, he would choose not to run

    You make a persuasive case for a rational person. But this is Steve King. His policy positions are based on ideology, frequently in direct contradiction to the evidence. He has to be tempted by the opportunity to move to a bigger stage where he could continue to promote his ideological clap trap and save the country from Obamacare, foreign-speaking immigrants, gun grabbers, and other threats to his neighbors in Kiron.

    The one person with the best insight to his decision-making process is King himself. If he says the odds are "a little more than 50-50," I'll take him at his word. One thing about King is that if he makes a statement or takes a position, he sticks with it forever, no matter how stupid or wrong it proves to be.

    • absolutely, I think he is rational

      He is wrong about a lot in public policy, but I think he has strong political instincts. He understood that he needed to change his image for the campaign against Vilsack, for example, and his messaging reflected that.

      I updated the post above to make clear that he has paid for polling on a possible statewide race. There's always a chance that whatever polling firm could paint too rosy a picture of his prospects, but I think the numbers will show that he would get crushed in eastern Iowa and would not perform well in the central Iowa suburbs.

      • Polls are evidence

        How much will his political instincts be influenced by evidence.?

        One more factor influencing his decision will be whether he wants to devote the time and energy to campaign across Iowa and raise money. If he doesn't run, he can coast to re-election and spend time with his grandkids or travel around the country to give speeches and be on right-wing talk radio shows.

        • he will never admit it

          if the private polling tells him he couldn't win statewide. He will come up with some family-related excuse not to run for Senate.

  • Not running

    Northey or Reynolds

    • no reason for Reynolds to run

      I don't understand who her constituency is supposed to be in a GOP primary. If she stays where she is, she has a better chance of becoming governor someday.

      Don't know about Northey. I think his support for the gas tax increase would cause him trouble in a primary, but a lot of establishment people will be leaning on him to run for Senate, assuming King stays out.

  • Immigration

    A Spiker-King-someone else matchup would be interesting.  I gotta admit the most interesting issue might be immigration in such a contest.  I know this is not going to endear me to anyone here, but if you ignore some of the comparisons that King has made during the debate, his views are actually anti-free market and more leftist than most leftists want to admit.  King's underlying message on immigration should appeal to some union members if you just listen to it and ignore the hyperbole.  

    Spiker on the other hand would be more Libertarian on the issue, pro-free marketing and anti-working class on the issue.  Let's be honest here most of the Libertarians and Chamber of Commerce types who back immigration reform don't give two bits about workers, they just want a larger labor pool to select from and less paperwork.

    Rand/Ron Paul always have a lot of double talk on the immigration because of the blue collar people that they have to represent.  The truth of the matter is that the interests of those blue collar folks is contrary to their pseudo-academic Libertarian ideology when it comes to immigration.    

    • I would love to see

      Spiker run in the primary. That would be high entertainment value and potentially very damaging to the GOP's ability to get organized for next year's election. But maybe not that damaging, because I expect Branstad's re-election campaign will run almost all the Republican GOTV in 2014.

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