DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday she is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat that Democrat Tom Harkin will be giving up after the 2014 election.
“I'll take a serious look at it,” the Republican said during a conference call Thursday from the Philippines, where she is leading a trade mission.
Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Latham had been exploring a campaign for the Senate since Harkin announced a month ago he would be stepping down after five terms. But Latham announced Wednesday he wasn't seeking the seat, despite the urging of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who argued that Latham had represented more than half of Iowa's 99 counties over the course of nearly 20 years in Congress.
Rep. Steve King, a conservative from northwest Iowa, is also weighing a bid. Branstad has urged him to wait, and a national conservative group has named King as the type of potentially polarizing candidate Republicans should avoid nominating in light of high-profile Senate losses last year.
Reynolds, 53, was a state senator from southern Iowa for two years before Branstad selected her as his running mate in 2010. She is a protégé of the veteran pro-business governor but is also popular with Iowa's robust evangelical conservative movement.
Reynolds said she only recently learned of Latham's decision. Her decision about whether to run “will start with sitting down with Congressman King,” she said.
Rep. Bruce Braley, a four-term Democratic congressman from Waterloo, is his party's only announced candidate for the seat.
Republicans need to gain six Senate seats to claim the majority in Washington. Before Harkin's announcement, Democrats had the upper hand in Iowa, in light of the veteran Democratic senator's healthy popularity and campaign war chest.
The seat is now seen as more competitive, in light of Iowa's performance as a swing state and considering that the party that controls the White House often loses seats in a president's second term.
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