New IA-Sen Republican candidate speculation thread

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.

P.S. – Gross advised interested Republicans not to put off the decision too long.

“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.

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  • Speculation

    Christian Fong should look at it.  I admit I haven’t been following his latest projects so he may have ruled it.  If none of the “heavy hitters” run I think this probably puts Whitaker in the driver’s seat as the establishment candidate.

    If John Archer or Rob Gettemy had more success in their previous runs, maybe one of them would consider it.  Gettemy may be a little too Tea Party to win statewide anyway.

    Spiker and the Libertarians will be vetting people no question about it.  The establishment keeps trying to torpedo Rod Blum in IA-1 with the Randi Shannon (sp?) “links”  so there is no doubt that they would probably try to put the screws to Spiker or anyone from his camp.  Spiker’s position on immigration would probably end his chances in a primary, presuming he’s an actual Libertarian.  

    Obviously there are a lot of moderates (by today’s standards that could give it a go), but you don’t really see room for them unless some outside spending group got heavily involved on their behalf.  

    • someone in the "Liberty" crowd will run

      No doubt in my mind about that, but I have no idea who it will be.

      The establishment better come up with a credible alternative to Blum in IA-01, because Steve Rathje ain’t it in my opinion.

  • Bill Dix?

  • Still thinking Northey

    and how about Kraig Paulsen? I also think Matt W is a strong possibility, if Doug’s predictions come to pass. How about Mary Andringa? Trying to think of some other GOP women…

    • Mary Andringa

      hesitated to run for governor when they tried to recruit her in 2009, so I’m not convinced she would run for Senate. It would be smart for Republicans to nominate a woman, though.

      Don’t know about Kraig Paulsen. He has enemies in the tea party wing and he’d have to give up something real to run for Senate.

      I think the nominee will be someone not currently holding an elected position.

    • Women

      I suggested Libby Jacobs, but she’s too moderate and no one wants to take me up on that within the GOP.  I’m always conflicted in these races because Dems want someone who is easy to beat while Iowa still needs someone who believes in the basic duties of a United States Senator and needs an advocate for our state.  We don’t need a Jeff Flake or a Mike Lee type.

      Findley would probably like to run for something, she might get the blessing of the King faction.  Annette Sweeney could run for something and do a decent job.

      The GOP could do some digging and find some female legislators from the nineties and early 2000’s, but they aren’t interested in doing that probably.  They want a flame thrower of some type, which is why I suppose they are lukewarm about a Northey candidacy or when Latham was eyeing the race.

      I see Latham and Northey pretty much in the same mold.    This is the party that nominated Chris Reed mind you.  There are quite a few women that gave money to Branstad, but that doesn’t mean they are interested in running of course and of course the GOP wants to vet someone, seeing whether they got “corporate welfare” and what not.  

      • Libby Jacobs is a non-starter

        she was sort-of pro-choice (against banning abortion but also against government funding for some family planning stuff). Any former legislator will have problems because of votes the far right can dig up from the past. That’s why I think Republicans might nominate someone who has never held elected office.

        We haven’t heard the last of Brenna Findley. She will run for some statewide office again for sure. Don’t know about IA-Sen, though.

        • Very true

          If they were interested in winning the race without having to go slash and burn they would nominate someone like Jacobs.  I’m not saying that they can’t win with diehard conservative, but we all know how the U.S. Senate works, there aren’t enough “true believers” in the body yet to do what the Tea Party crowd would want to do anyway.  So why not just win the race and get someone who believes in some of your principles?

          I appreciate Lisa Murkowski’s independent streak, but that is probably what they would get with someone like Jacobs or someone with a similar profile.  If the Iowa GOP wants to turn down someone like that in the name of “principle” then they will likely lose the race, or at least give Braley a slight edge starting out.    

          I wonder what Mike Whalen is doing these days, I’m sure he’s not interested.  I think a Whalen-Braley statewide showdown would be fascinating.