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Ok, I know the idea of Tea Party Congressman Steve King (R. IA-4) excites us because we'll have a chance to see the Republican Party continue to devour its self and hand the race to our star candidate, Congressman Bruce Braley (D. IA-1).  But Senator Tom Harkin (D. IA) warns us not to underestimate King's chances:

Don't take Steve King lightly.

That's the warning from Sen. Tom Harkin for his fellow Iowa Democrats itching for King to jump into a statewide race.

“I've never underestimated Steve King,” Harkin told The World-Herald. “He is a smart guy. He is a tough campaigner.”

Harkin is retiring after five terms in the U.S. Senate, and the race to succeed him in 2014 could help determine the body's balance of power. The race is viewed as a toss-up at this very early stage, before the candidates have been determined.

Iowa is a state that swings back and forth in presidential elections and consistently supports both Harkin, a liberal Democrat, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, a conservative Republican — making it one of 15 states with both a Democrat and a Republican in the Senate.

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is already pursuing Harkin's seat, while King and other top Republicans are contemplating a bid. - Omaha World-Herald Bureau, 3/6/13

And Harkin is right about that.  King might be a nut job, for sure, but he can rial up the Tea Party base and in a mid term election, turn out is essential.  PPP showed that King is the preferred candidate of Iowa Republicans:

If he decides to run for Iowa’s open Senate seat in 2014, Steve King would be a front-runner for the GOP nomination but would have a much tougher time winning the general election, according to PPP’s latest poll.

In a hypothetical four-way Republican primary contest, King would lead the pack with 41% support, followed by 22% for Tom Latham, 10% for Kim Reynolds and 9% for Bob Vander Plaats. 17% were not sure who they want as next year’s Republican nominee. 49% of very conservative primary voters would back King.

63% of primary voters view King favorably to 12% unfavorably. King would also be the clear choice if he were only running against Latham and Vander Plaats or just Latham. - PPP, 2/5/13

I've highlight some of King's craziest hits before.  You can read about them here:

But this latest move by King is pretty scary:

Today, Congressman Steve King (Republican-Iowa) along with 57 cosponsors introduced the National Right to Work Act (H.R. 946) in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The House bill is a companion bill to S. 204, the Senate’s version of the National Right to Work Act introduced by Senator Rand Paul (Republican-Ky.) with 9 cosponsors.

The one page bill would end Big Labor’s federally-authorized power to force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Committee, issued the following statement praising the introduction of the bill:

“We’re extremely pleased that Congressman King has introduced the National Right to Work Act, intensifying a growing debate about labor law and worker freedom in our country.  This legislation would enshrine the common-sense principle – already enforced in nearly half of U.S. states – that no worker should be compelled to join or pay dues to a union just to get or keep a job.

In an age of legislative overreach, this is one of the shortest bills ever introduced. A National Right to Work Act does not add a single word to federal law.  It simply removes language in the National Labor Relations Act that gives union officials the power to extract dues from nonunion workers as a condition of employment." - Hawaii Reporter, 3/5/13

And if there's one person who isn't underestimating his chances of securing the GOP nominee, it's Karl Rove, who's efforts to discourage King from running are only tempting him to make a Senate run a real thing:

Conservative Rep. Steve King is using Karl Rove’s “war” on the Tea Party to fundraise, telling supporters that “Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest.”

King is a potential front-runner in the 2014 Republican primary to replace Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who is retiring. In an email obtained by the Des Moines Register, King told supporters that “I’m under attack and I urgently need your help to fight back.” He added that he has not made a decision about a run, “but already Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me.”

“I’m no stranger to outlandish attacks like this,” King wrote. “They said I couldn’t win in 2012 — the entire political machine was against me — but I soundly defeated my opponent by 8 percentage points. So let me be clear. Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest.” - Salon, 2/7/13

Now there are a number of other Republicans considering running for Harkin's seat, like Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey.  Governor Terry Branstad (R. IA), who is up for re-election in 2014 as well, isn't picking a favorite and is avoiding stepping on anyone's toes:

Branstad, asked if he were giving Reynolds his blessing, answered: “Well, listen, it’s up to her to decide. I think she’s got a great and a bright future. And she’s got my support for whatever decision she makes.”

Branstad added that he thinks King, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and Reynolds are “all very strong, viable candidates. There may be others. But I’d certainly say those are all three real good proven vote-getters, office holders in this state.”

The list of other Republicans talking publicly or privately about their prospects includes Mark Chelgren, Steve Deace, Drew Ivers, Rod Roberts, Matt Schultz, Kent Sorenson, A.J. Spiker, Matt Strawn, Bob Vander Plaats, David Vaudt, Matt Whitaker and Brad Zaun. - A Better Iowa, 3/6/13

And Iowa Republican Party Chairman, A.J. Spiker, is eager to see what move King will make:
“Whoever runs,” said Spiker, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, “I think they need to decide before Labor Day.”

And the sooner King decides, the better, Spiker said, given that other Republicans want to zero in on replacing him if he is running, or look at other offices such as state treasurer or attorney general.

The primary will be in June next year. - A Better Iowa, 3/6/13

PPP showed King trailing Braley by 11 points last month but expect the race to get closer once a nominee is picked.  Senator Chuck Grassley is pretty sad that his ideal candidate, Congressman Tom Latham (R. IA-3) has declined to run for Harkin's seat:
Grassley said he was surprised that Latham decided not to run, based on a conversation with the congressman and his belief that Latham would have been Iowa Republicans' strongest option.

“He's got a temperament, I think, that fits in well with Iowans and even though he votes conservative, I think that he is considered as a person (who is) open,” Grassley said. “I think you appreciate people that don't have radical views.” - Omaha World-Herald Bureau, 3/6/13

Harkin, like all of us, is expecting an ugly fight between establishment guys like Karl Rove and Tea Party nuts like King for the soul of the Republican Party in this race:
To Harkin, the fight for GOP votes in Iowa boils down to who has control — state-level Republican leadership and conservative, grass-roots voters, or the national GOP establishment epitomized by operative Karl Rove. Rove's American Crossroads group has started a new effort to help Republican candidates who can compete well in general elections win Senate primaries.

Republicans lost several races in 2012 that many thought they should have won. Observers blamed undisciplined candidates.

A prime example was Missouri, where Rep. Todd Akin's comments about rape and abortion doomed his Senate candidacy and caused headaches for Republicans everywhere. Steven J. Law, president of Crossroads, told the New York Times that the group was “concerned about Steve King's Todd Akin problem.”

Said Harkin: “We'll see who really controls the Iowa Republican Party. Steve King, a congressman, or Karl Rove. If Congressman King decides not to run, then obviously Karl Rove is calling the shots.” - Omaha World-Herald Bureau, 3/6/13

One person who isn't underestimating King is Bruce Braley.  He's already attacking King for voting against the Violence Against Women Act:

While Fourth District Congressman Steve King weighs his decision to run for Tom Harkin's U.S. Senate seat, his potential competitor Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley has already begun his attack.

Braley, who represents Iowa's First District, including Cedar Falls, called him out for voting against the senate version of the Violence Against Women Act, according to a report in the Des Moines Register.

Braley tweeted “#VAWA passes House overwhelmingly>280 votes. A good day on the House floor. 3 Iowans voted “yes.” 1 voted “no.” Any Guesses?” - Cedar Falls Patch, 3/3/13

Braley is even tying King to failed Senate candidate, Tea Party Congressman Todd Akin (R. MO), to highlight how extreme King is:
Braley recently posted online a series of slams against King focused on women's issues. He pointed to King's endorsement of Akin, whose campaign imploded after his comments about “legitimate rape.”

Braley said King defended Akin's comments. King said that's simply not true and that Braley is spreading misinformation. He suggested that Iowans will see Braley's attacks as politically motivated. - Omaha World-Herald Bureau, 3/6/13

Braley's early attacks on King may also entice King to run.  If King gets in, Braley sounds like he'll be ready for him.  Iowa has a higher number of registered Independents that elected both a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat to the U.S. Senate.  Braley is painting himself to be the prairie populist who is pragmatic and down to earth, which he is.  He has a strong record for sticking up for the middle-class the environment, organized labor and he listened to his constituents concerns and voted against SOPA:

If you live in Iowa and would like to get involved in Braley's campaign, you can sign up here:

And if you want to donate to Braley's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:19 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It is not possible to underestimate the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    From Neocon to sane- thanks to Obama- and Kos.

    by satrap on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:00:01 PM PST

    •  Perhaps, but (0+ / 0-)

      it is possible to lose that seat.  Mid-term elections favor the GOP here.  Their voters are motivated and often old.  They don't have any conflict between going to vote and getting to work.

      I think King can be beaten, but it will take a lot of energy for us to get folks interested and to the polls.

      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

      by luckylizard on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:18:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you think Braley is that guy to energize the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        base?  He sure seems like he is.

        Funny Stuff at

        by poopdogcomedy on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:21:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I really liked him (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          when he was my congressman.  He's got name recognition, at least in the eastern part of the state.  I'm not sure any Democrat would make a difference in the western part.  Those folks are too far gone....

          I do worry that people in the eastern Iowa may not be that aware of the embarrassment that is Steve King, though.  We can only hope that he will continue to perform as he has all these years.  All of the major colleges and universities are in this half of the state (from Des Moines/Ames to the Mississippi River).  I just cannot believe that people in college towns and urban centers will vote for that evil a$$.

          -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

          by luckylizard on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:50:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  One thing to note about Branstad's role (4+ / 0-)

    he basically told Karl Rove to butt out of the Senate race, before Latham had announced he wasn't running.  That's tantamount to endorsing King, and it makes sense for Branstad because it makes it less likely he's not challenged from the right in a primary.  For Latham, it makes sense to sit this out unless the deck is cleared for him, let King fail, and be the frontrunner when Grassley retires.

    I think turnout will be pretty high because this race is high profile, and there will be a governor's race, be two open Congressional seat and a third, Latham's, that should be pretty contested.  (Obama won the district but Boswell lost.)   The drop-off from '08 to '10 was pretty severe, but in '12, turnout actually increased from '08.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:08:37 PM PST

  •  Branstad's (3+ / 0-)

    Remark two days ago that he would not consider expanding Medicaid because the poor would use health care like drunks at an open bar at a wedding needs to be remembered and used against both him and King.  The depth of insult is beyond belief...except that I believe.  

    The Tea Party does not trust Branstad. We need to make sure no one else does either.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Vatexia on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 03:38:47 PM PST

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