Vote 2014: Braley to Meet with Harry Reid About Senate Seat

First Congressional District Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, center, with his wife Carolyn, left, speaks to a large group of supporters following his win over Ben Lange at the Black Hawk County Democrat election party at the UAW hall Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Waterloo, Iowa. (MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor)

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley hasn't decided whether to run for the Senate in 2014, but he'd like to be the consensus choice among Democratic leaders if he does make the race.

That goal came into view Wednesday as the Iowa Democrat made plans to meet with Democratic leaders in Washington to discuss the opportunity created by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's decision not to seek re-election.

"I'll be going out to Washington, D.C., to meet with them to talk about the logistics of running a race like this," Braley said in an interview with the Associated Press. "And then I'll come back and spend a lot of serious time thinking about what it means for us and our family to take on a challenge like this."

Braley said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had encouraged him to run for the office.

Braley plans to meet with Reid and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, who is chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to discuss the race.

Harkin, 73, announced Saturday he would not seek a sixth term in 2014. Harkin said he wanted to spend time with his wife Ruth "before it was too late," and that it was "time to step aside" for the next generation, after almost 30 years in the Senate.

Braley, elected to the House in 2006, had weighed running against six-term Republican Charles Grassley in 2010.

Others mentioned as possible candidates include former Iowa first Lady Christie Vilsack, who lost a U.S. House race last year, and her husband, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, now U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Potential Republican candidates include U.S. Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham.

Braley said he planned to speak with the Vilsacks by the end of the week. They were traveling overseas this week.

Braley said he would have to raise "a lot" of money to make the race. Republicans had considered the prospect of defeating Harkin, a strong fundraiser, unlikely. The GOP and conservative interest groups are likely to invest heavily to capture the seat. One such group spent more than $1.5 million in an unsuccessful effort to defeat Braley for re-election in 2010.

"There will be a lot of people very interested in influencing the outcome of this race," Braley said.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Senate 55-45.

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