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Harkin’s Exit Heralds Scramble for Senate Seat – Wall Street Journal
Harkin’s Exit Heralds Scramble for Senate Seat – WallStreet JournalBy SIOBHAN HUGHESWASHINGTON—Tom Harkin, one of the Senate’s leading liberals, said Saturday that hewouldn’t seek re-election in 2014, likely setting off a scramble among Republicans andDemocrats for what promises to be a competitive Senate seat.The 73-year-old Iowa Democrat cited his age and his length of service on Capitol Hill as a factorin his decision. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1974 and won his Senateseat in 1984.Enlarge Image 1/4
Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesSen. Tom Harkin at the U.S. Capitol last May.Mr. Harkin has endured major political upheavals through the decades, arriving in the Senateduring the conservative Reagan era and more recently helping to advance the 2010 health-careoverhaul, the Affordable Care Act, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama‘s presidency thatis widely embraced by liberals.“After 40 years, I just feel it’s somebody else’s turn,” Mr. Harkin said in a statement. “I don’tby any means plan to retire completely from public life at the end of this Congress. But I amgoing to make way for someone new in this Senate seat.”Mr. Harkin had been viewed as likely to retain the seat. His decision to step aside triggers awide-open race that could attract a number of contenders. Among those mentioned most 2/4
frequently are Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa); Rep. Tom Latham (R., Iowa) and Rep. Bruce Braley(D., Iowa.)In a statement, Mr. Braley called Mr. Harkin’s departure “a huge loss for the people of Iowa,”praising the senator’s work on health-care issues. He didn’t comment on whether he plans toenter the Senate race.Spokespersons for Messrs. King and Latham couldn’t be reached for comment.“It’s clearly no longer safe for the Democrats—it’s now a competitive race,” said StuartRothenberg, the editor of the Rothenberg Political Report. “I think you have to start off with theDemocrats having a slight advantage no matter what. The question is how big is thatadvantage.”“Right now I’m inclined to call this a tossup,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the CookPolitical Report. “Both parties have candidates they’re looking at who are credible. It comesdown to who has a nasty primary and who can clear the field.”Another factor is that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstand’s term expires in January, 2015. Democratshad been talking to Mr. Braley about running for the governorship, according to Ms. Duffy.“Maybe there is pressure now for Braley to run for the Senate seat,” she said.Democrats claimed that they would be able to come up with a strong contender for the seat.Republicans said that Mr. Harkin’s retirement would put Democrats at a disadvantage.“With Democrats already on defense in a number of key states, such as West Virginia,Louisiana, South Dakota and others, there is no question that this is very troubling news for[Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and his liberal friends in Washington,” Rob Collins,executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement.Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,said Democrats had ample time to come up with a solid candidate. “I appreciate that Sen.Harkin has made this decision so early in the cycle, giving us ample time to recruit a strongDemocratic candidate for this seat,” he said in a statement.Sen. Reid (D., Nev.) issued a statement saying that he would miss Mr. Harkin. Citing Mr.Harkin’s commitment to affordable health care, Mr. Reid said that “Tom is a passionateprogressive, whose deeply held principles have provided a guiding light to Democrats fordecades. The state of Iowa and the nation are better off because of his service.” Write to Siobhan Hughes at email@example.com 3/4
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