Mixed feelings on State Senator Rick Bertrand's possible campaign in IA-04

Bret Hayworth had a great scoop in the Sioux City Journal this weekend: Republican State Senator Rick Bertrand is “strongly, strongly considering” a primary challenge to seven-term Representative Steve King in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

Part of me wants him to go for it. Part of me hopes Bertrand will put his ambition for higher office on hold until 2018.

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IA-Sen news roundup: GOP heading for convention scenario?

It’s time for a new discussion thread on the campaign for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat. I’ve pulled together lots of news on the declared and potential Republican candidates after the jump.

Some candidates who have expressed interest may back off before the filing deadline next March, but if most of them follow through, it’s plausible that no Republican will receive 35 percent of the vote in the June 2014 primary. That would allow statewide GOP convention delegates to select a nominee to face Democrat Bruce Braley in the general election.

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IA-Sen: Sam Clovis running, Joni Ernst retains high-powered consultant

Sam Clovis announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Clovis is ending his conservative talk radio program and has a sabbatical for the coming academic year from Morningside College in Sioux City. After the jump I’ve posted more background on Clovis, including the statement of purpose he posted on his campaign website, as well as highlights from his news conference yesterday. You can watch clips from his speech here, and he is on Twitter here. Many Iowa conservatives will buy what Clovis is selling, but can he raise the money to run a strong statewide campaign?

Meanwhile, Alexander Burns reported at Politico yesterday that State Senator Joni Ernst is consulting with GOP strategist David Polyansky as she lays the groundwork for a Senate campaign.

“She’s making all the steps necessary to advance towards a campaign,” said one Republican close to Ernst. “I think she has the core nucleus [of a campaign] in place so that, should she decide to pull the trigger, she’d be able to do so fairly soon.”

The Sunday Des Moines Register featured a guest editorial by Mark Jacobs, a former energy company executive who is also considering the Senate race. After the jump I’ve posted some bullet points from that editorial, which focused on next steps for Iowa in education reform.

If no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 2014 primary, a statewide convention will determine the GOP nominee for Senate.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Polyansky previously worked for the presidential campaigns of Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann, although he bailed on Bachmann a few months before the Iowa caucuses.

SECOND UPDATE: I keep forgetting Paul Lunde, who is also seeking the GOP nomination for Senate. James Lynch reports that if elected, Lunde “plans to introduce what he calls the ‘second Bill of Rights’ – 12 constitutional amendments that include making Social Security and Medicare permanent, changing the Electoral College, instituting a limited national sales tax and setting term limits for members of Congress.”

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IA-Sen: Whitaker ready to announce, Reynolds encouraging Ernst (updated)

Appearing on Simon Conway’s WHO radio program this afternoon, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker announced that he is “taking steps to run” for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat. You can listen to the podcast here. Whitaker plans to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission this week and formally launch his campaign at a public event on June 3. His Senate campaign website is under construction. The Iowa Democratic Party is already poking fun at Whitaker’s first legislative proposal.

Also, today, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds told journalists that she has encouraged State Senator Joni Ernst to run for the U.S. Senate. You can listen to the audio at Radio Iowa, beginning several minutes into the clip. Reynolds said that she had encouraged Ernst to run for Montgomery County auditor nearly 10 years ago, and to run in the Iowa Senate special election to replace Reynolds.

At this point, I’ll be surprised if Ernst decides against running. Sean Sullivan reported at the Washington Post’s blog today that her “stock is high among Republican Gov. Terry Branstad’s allies.” Sullivan noticed an approving tweet about Ernst from Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, though that’s far from a formal endorsement.

Ernst has little fundraising experience, but if Branstad activates his donor network, she could raise a lot of money for a Senate campaign. By the same token, Whitaker has strong fundraising potential even though he’s never been a candidate for office before. CORRECTION: I forgot that Whitaker ran for state treasurer in 2002. Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz would almost certainly be at a financial disadvantage in the Republican primary compared to Whitaker and Ernst, if he goes for Senate rather than for re-election to his current office. Then again, he is probably better known among the Iowa GOP base, which loves his drive for voter ID laws.

Any comments about the IA-Sen race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Added more news after the jump.

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