WATERLOO — Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley said Sunday that he is considering running for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s Senate seat after receiving encouragement from supporters statewide.
“Iowans deserve a senator who will continue Tom Harkin’s legacy of strengthening the middle class and standing up for Iowans who don’t have a voice,” Braley said. “While Sen. Harkin’s shoes are impossible to fill, over the coming days my family and I will carefully weigh a possible candidacy for Senate.”
Most of the other likely candidates kept a low profile on Sunday.
Braley, a 55-year-old Waterloo attorney, was first elected to represent northeast Iowa in 2006, including the Quad-Cities. Redistricting shifted him into the 2nd District for the November election. Rep. Dave Loebsack now represents Iowa’s 1st District, including Scott and Clinton counties.
Harkin told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday that he won’t run in 2014 for a sixth term in the Senate, where he has served since 1985. He also said Saturday that he might endorse a Democrat in the primary if there was a “pragmatic progressive” candidate.
Braley could help the Democrats retain control of the Senate. Republicans must gain six seats to eliminate Democrats’ 55-45 advantage in the chamber. Retaining control could be difficult because Democrats have 20 seats to defend, while Republicans have only 13 to defend.
Harkin’s decision to retire will give the Republicans an opportunity to win the seat in a swing state like Iowa.
The Republican speculation is likely to focus on Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King.
Latham, of Clive, is a veteran member of the House Appropriations Committee who has won 10 consecutive elections. Latham’s office didn’t rule out a run for the Senate on Sunday.
“No decision has been made at this time. All doors remain open at this point,” said James Carstensen, Latham’s chief of staff.
Rep. Steve King, of Kiron, won a sixth term last fall by beating Iowa’s Democratic former first lady Christie Vilsack. King’s office did not immediately respond to a message Sunday afternoon.
King is known for being an outspoken conservative with strong positions on everything from immigration to the federal budget.
Meanwhile, Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds also isn’t ruling out a possible Senate run in the wake of Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s retirement.
At a regular Monday news conference at the Capitol with Reynolds and Gov. Terry Branstad, Reynolds said she was going to keep her options open.
She also said that her focus was on her work with Branstad in Iowa.
Iowa is one of just four states to never elect a woman to Congress.