Branstad Says U.S. Senate Doesn’t Need Another Congressman

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By Liz Blood

DES MOINES, Iowa - Gov. Terry Branstad’s political shot at U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, may have inadvertently winged GOP ally, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, as well.

The five-term GOP governor told reporters at his weekly news conference that he was confident Iowa Republicans are going to find “a really good candidate” to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2015 by the retirement of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a Cumming Democrat.

Iowa Democrats appear ready to nominating Braley, the current 1st District congressman, to carry the party banner into the 2014 general election campaign for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat. No Iowa Republican has announced for the Senate race, although King, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and state Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak, have expressed interest.

“We need an Iowa problem solver against a congressman because the last thing we need is another congressman in the United States Senate,” Branstad told his weekly news conference.

When reporters asked if that meant he was ruling out a King bid for U.S. Senate or was suggesting the GOP congressman from northwest Iowa should not run, the GOP governor said he was not speaking for anybody and quickly noted that King had served “very effectively” for six years in the state Senate before being elected to Congress in 2002.

“It’s a little different thing than Braley, that all his service has been in Washington, D.C., during the time that they passed all these massive deficits,” said Branstad, who added that he believed Braley’s voting record in the U.S. House would be “a pretty easy target” for a GOP nominee in 2014.

“The contrast of having an Iowa problem solver versus somebody who that’s had all of their service in Washington, D.C. in the Congress would be a very good thing for Republicans,” Branstad said.

“The Congress is so messed up. They are so unable to make tough decisions. They are so far out of touch with the public in terms of their spending policies that we just need somebody that’s going to come there with fresh ideas and we’ve got some of those in Iowa,” he added.

Iowa’s two U.S. senators – Harkin and Chuck Grassley, R-New Hartford – both served in the U.S. House before being elected to the U.S. Senate. Harkin served for 10 years as a southwest Iowa congressman before he was elected to the Senate in 1984, while Grassley had been an eastern Iowa congressman for six years before he joined the Senate in 1981.

During his weekly news conference, Branstad reiterated that he has no intention of running for U.S. Senate and has no interest in being a part of the federal government’s political gridlock.

“I’d love to run,” he said, “I just don’t want to serve.”

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