Iowa’s King Sees U.S. Senate Win as Challenging, But ‘Plausible’

By James Lynch, Reporter

Representative Steve King (R-IA) on the steps of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (Stephen Mally/Freelance)


By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Rep. Steve King plans to be on the ballot in 2014, but hasn’t decided whether he’ll be seeking re-election or an open U.S. Senate seat.

“I wish I knew the answer,” the western Iowa Republican said this morning. “When I make up my mind, when I come to that conclusion, I will be the happiest person in America about that decision whichever way that is.”

King, who is in his sixth term, continues to weigh the pros and cons of squaring off against Eastern Iowa U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley for the seat now held by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

He’s looking at data and consulting with friends and political advisers, King said on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal April 25. In the end, running for the Senate has to feel right in his “head, gut and heart … in that order.”

Conventional wisdom is that if he runs, he will not face a primary challenge. If King doesn’t run, Iowa political observers foresee several candidates stepping forward.

Whoever runs, King said, will face an “uphill battle,” but not an insurmountable challenge.

“Barack Obama started his movement in Iowa and that does make a difference,” he said. “Organizing for America is now institutionalized.”

However, he pointed out that the costs associated with health care reform will hit in January 2014 and that is likely to renew talk of repealing ObamaCare.

“That could be a pivotal issue,” he said

Also, he is encouraged by Republican success in states that lean more Democratic than Iowa. The election of GOP Sens. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania “makes it a plausible thing to have Steve King in Iowa.”

King said he’s “very close … within weeks” of making a decision.

“When that’s done, I’m either going to launch forward on a campaign that will be all out or turn around and go back to running a campaign for re-election,” King said. “I don’t know which, but I hope to be on the ballot in the fall of 2014.”

A decision not to run would open the door for several in the GOP. State Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak is the latest to say she’s looking at the race. Among the others are Secretary of State Matt Schultz, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds took herself out of the race this week as did 3rd District Rep. Tom Latham shortly after Harkin announced his retirement.

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