Republican Rep. Tom Latham told supporters in Iowa today that he doesn’t intend to run for a Senate seat there in 2014, clearing a path for a potential bid by fellow Republican Rep. Steve King.
Latham and King had been publicly contemplating bids for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin. Latham, who is close to House Speaker John Boehner, comes from the establishment branch of the party, while King is a darling of the Tea Party movement.
“The opportunity to serve Iowa in the U.S. Senate is appealing to this farm kid who grew up here, raised a family here, and helped grow a family business in Iowa,” Latham said in an e-mail to supporters. “However, only 56 days ago I took an oath to ‘faithfully discharge the duties’ of an office with which the people of Iowa’s Third Congressional District entrusted to me. I cannot in good conscience launch a two-year statewide campaign that will detract from the commitment I made to the people who elected me.”
If King enters the race, it could draw the attention of Karl Rove’s Conservative Victory Project, which has indicated that it would oppose King should he run for the Harkin’s seat. The new group has established the goal of nominating more Republicans who have a better chance of winning general elections.
“This is just another potential candidate in a long line of Republicans who have decided not to face down the extremist elements within their own party,” Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement.
Latham’s decision was reported earlier by the Des Moines Register.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Bruce Braley has said he plans to run and so far faces no other serious challengers.