Republicans thinking about running for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat next year are still in a holding pattern, waiting for Representative Steve King to make up his mind. Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal just dropped his "King Meter" from 63 to 58, reflecting only a slightly better than 50-50 chance that King will run for Senate. If Bleeding Heartland had a King Meter, it would have started at zero and stayed there.
Today former GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross predicted that neither King nor two other prominent Iowa Republicans will run for the Senate in 2014.
Gross has been a prominent Republican insider since the 1980s and was the GOP's nominee against Governor Tom Vilsack in 2002. He discussed the IA-Sen race on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program today. O.Kay Henderson reported some highlights for Radio Iowa.
"I do not expect Steve King to run," Gross said. "I know he was here last week indicating that he's analyzing it and usually when I've worked with politicians over the years, when they're analyzing something, they're usually trying to figure out how not to do it - because usually their gut tells them when they're going to do it."
Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey have confirmed they're considering a run for the U.S. Senate, too, but Gross doesn't think either will.
"So I don't think we know who the candidate's going to be right now," Gross said.
I agree with Gross on all counts. King needs to appear to be seriously considering this campaign to save face, but he will stay in his safe Congressional district.
Reynolds has no base of public support to carry her through a Republican primary, so it makes more sense for her to stay put and run for governor in 2018.
Northey seems to like his current job and would have to go way outside his comfort zone to run for Senate. Aside from agriculture-related topics, he's not nearly as conversant as Bruce Braley on major federal policy issues.
If those Republicans don't run for the Senate, who will? I expect former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker to go for the GOP nomination, along with at least one current or former state legislator (only Senator Brad Zaun has ruled it out). I would not be surprised to see a person who has never held public office run for the Senate--perhaps a successful business owner. UPDATE/CORRECTION: Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix has also said he's not running for U.S. Senate next year.
Spin your own scenarios on this thread.
"Particularly as a Republican, you need to go to every county. I mean, it isn't just Chuck Grassley's schtick. As a Republican, you've got votes in every county and you need to go to every county and it's a big state, so you really have to work it hard, so one thing I am concerned about is I'd like to see our candidates come forward this summer, no later than this summer because people need to get to know them it they're going to have a good shot at winning," Gross said. "One of the mistakes I think I made back in 2002 was getting in too late."
Gross formally announced his candidacy in early March of that year, just three months before the primary.