DES MOINES — Even as the field of potential Republican candidates for a 2014 open-seat Senate race dwindles, Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker says there’s no pressure on the leading contender to make a decision.
“It’s his decision, and I’m not going to push anyone on a timetable,” Spiker said when asked if the party had given Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a deadline.
Some Republicans have grown concerned that potential nominees are deciding not to run and others are frozen in place while waiting for King to reach a decision.
“The important thing is that whoever decides to run puts in as much time as they believe necessary to make their decision,” Spiker said. “Once you announce, it’s hard to change your mind.”
King doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to make a decision.
“I never thought it would be into May without an answer,” King told reporters this week. “I just don’t know the answer, and I’m embarrassed that I don’t know the answer.”
That doesn’t worry Spiker, even though Rep. Bruce Braley is unopposed for the Democratic Senate nomination and has secured the endorsement of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin and has raised more than $1 million.
“It would be a mistake to pressure him,” Spiker said. “He’ll make a decision in his own time.”
Should King decide not to run, Spiker expects a competitive primary.
“There will be a big primary field. I just don’t know how big,” Spiker said.
A primary could be good for the winner and the party, he continued.
“There are perks to a good primary contest,” Spiker said. Terry Branstad was a sharper gubernatorial candidate in 2010 because of a three-way primary, he said.
Not having a primary has a short-term benefit, but the long-term benefit of a primary is stronger candidates and a stronger party that attracts more supporters, campaign volunteers and future candidates, according to Spiker.
“The energy it generates within the party is a good thing,” he said.
Among the potential GOP candidates are Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s chief of staff David Young, former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker.