DES MOINES (AP) — U.S. Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa said Wednesday that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat left open by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin in 2014.
Latham, a 10-term Republican from Clive, said in a statement that he could not “in good conscience launch a two-year statewide campaign that will detract from the commitment” to the new district he was elected to in November.
Attention now turns to U.S. Rep. Steve King. The conservative Republican from Kiron in northwest Iowa has also said he is weighing a Senate bid.
Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, a four-term House member from Waterloo, is the only announced Democrat for the seat.
The Democrats had been expected to hold the seat until Harkin, 73, opted last month not to seek a sixth term.
Latham was considered the establishment Republican choice. The soft-spoken former businessman had represented more than half of Iowa's counties during nearly 20 years in Congress and was considered a good match for Braley, a former courtroom lawyer.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, had urged Latham this month during a private meeting at the governor's mansion in Des Moines to seek the nomination.
Branstad, who also met with King privately, said he urged King to develop more of a statewide network and consider running in 2016, should Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley decide against running for a sixth term.
Branstad said King proved himself to be a disciplined campaigner in his high-profile race against former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack last year.
A national group started by former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove had identified King as a potential target in its mission to field candidates more acceptable to general election audiences after Republican candidates for Senate lost in races seen as within their reach in 2010 and 2012.
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