Republicans Eyeing U.S. Senate Seat Stump in Dubuque

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By Forrest Saunders

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Iowa Republicans are looking to solidify a candidate for the 2014 U.S. Senate race. They’re hoping to fill the seat Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is leaving behind in retirement.

So far, at least six GOP candidates have declared a run, hoping for a tap from the party before the general election next November. Thursday night, four of them met in Dubuque for an event hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Sam Clovis, Joni Ernst, Matt Whitaker, and David Young took questions from voters, and gave stump speeches. They more or less agreed on the major issues-- reducing the size of government, cutting spending, and more. What set them apart were their personal backgrounds.

Young touted his time as Senator Grassley's chief of staff. "I've learned from the master," said Young. "I can hit the ground running for Iowa on that. I know Iowa. Having worked for them in the Senate and I know the issues. I've got the courage and leadership to do this."

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker said he stands out because he owns a small business. "I am in this economy. I am a small business owner. I have over 60 employees. I provide health insurance for my employees and I think I am the only candidate that does that," he said.

If elected, State Senator Joni Ernst would be Iowa's first female U.S. Senator. She said her time as mother and soldier sets her apart. "I am a military veteran. I have lead soldiers in a combat zone. I think that is very important with all of the issues we're facing on the international front," said Ernst.

Radio host Sam Clovis knows about military life too. He spent 25 years in the Air Force. One of the qualities he said that keeps him immune to the influence of special interest groups. "I've been 1,000 miles per hour this far off the ground. I am married to the love of my life. They have nothing to give me that I don't already have," said Clovis.

Harkin leaving creates a vacancy after about 40 years of service. The only candidate to announce a run in his party is First District Representative Bruce Braley.

Braley announced his bid back in February. The Waterloo Democrat has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2006.

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