Political Junkies Hold Breath As King Mulls Senate Bid

Those of us who as a hobby or as a professional obligation are already thinking ahead to 2014 remain on tenterhooks as the protagonist of what would be a marquee (and wildly fun!) contest, U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), publicly mulls a Senate bid. With the only intraparty competitor who might have actually challenged King, his House colleague Tom Latham, having taken himself out of the running, the wily radical is now assessing the odds of a Senate race at “a little more than 50-50.” Sioux City Journal political writer Bret Hayworth, who maintains a “King Meter” to measure the congressman’s inclinations to run for the Senate, has now raised the probability to 67%.

The stakes here go beyond the impact on Tom Harkin’s Senate seat, though that’s a pretty big deal given early polls showing Democratic congressman Bruce Braley leading King by a healthy margin. If King’s running, anyone who wants to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 will be expected to spend serious time in Iowa next year thumping the tubs for Michele Bachmann’s (and Tom Tancredo’s, back in the day) best friend in the House. So much for “rebranding” the GOP before the 2016 contest, eh?

If King decides not to run, early speculation is that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds or state Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey might run for the Senate. Neither has Latham’s strong popular standing or King’s ideological street cred–much less his entertainment value.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.