As you probably now know, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin announced he will not seek reelection in 2014. His upcoming retirement creates several interesting scenarios for the Senate (and other) races. Here is my quick take:
1) U.S. Representative Bruce Braley (D) from IA’s 1st Congressional district is the leading contender for the seat. This is of no surprise to anyone who follows politics, but should Braley announce his intentions for the seat it would suggest the Iowa Democratic Party (and perhaps the national party) see Democrats as having a better chance of holding Harkin’s Senate seat than taking the Governor’s Office from Republican control (Braley was also thought to be a leading contender for the governor’s race in 2014).
2.) Should Braley run, the 1st Congressional district in Iowa will be wide open. The Des Moines Register ran an article speculating on possible candidates, including Cedar Valley State Senators Bill Dotzler and Jeff Danielson. The district leans Democratic. According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s website, as of January 2, 2013, among active voters, the breakdown among Democrats, Republicans, and No Party registrants is 33.3%, 27.8%, and 38.8%, respectively. Put another way, any Republican running will have to be a moderate to win.
3.) Money will be everywhere in 2014. According to OpenSecrets.org, Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer each raised over $5 million in the race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska this past fall. Expect at least as much for Harkin’s seat in 2014. Should Braley run for Harkin’s seat, spending on the 1st Congressional district race will also be eye-popping—a competitive race could see both candidates raising close to $2 million. Finally, the governor’s race (with or without Branstad) will generate a lot of attention and a lot of money, and the victor will have a lot of control over the happenings in Des Moines.
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This post was written by Chris Larimer on January 26, 2013