Braley announces Senate run, locals look to 2014 race


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The political landscape in Iowa is changing, and Rep. Bruce Braley’s announcement Thursday to run for the Senate has prompted talk about the 2014 race.

Braley, D-Iowa, announced in an early morning email on Thursday his intentions to seek the Senate seat currently occupied by fellow Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin, who will not run for re-election in 2014.

“It’s a big responsibility to represent the people of Iowa in the United States Senate, especially after Tom Harkin has shown us how for the last 30 years,” he said in an email. “But, if you are willing to help me, I’m ready to go.”

Harkin made his announcement to not seek re-election on Jan. 26. Braley originally released a noncommittal statement before saying he would consider running.

One political expert said the timing of Braley’s announcement might make others rethink their plans of entering the Senate race.

“By announcing early and getting the groundwork and fundamentals ready to go, he may prevent others who might have thought at about it and now might wait until this summer to make an announcement,” said Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa associate professor of political science.

Given Braley’s announcement, Hagle said he doesn’t expect to see another big-name candidate enter the race for the Democratic nomination, which includes the possibility of former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver or current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Braley’s announcement came as a surprise to one former party official in Johnson County. Former Johnson County Democrats head Terry Dahms said he was surprised by the timing but optimistic about the congressman’s chances both in the primary and in general election.

“The most interesting question is who will be his opponent, and we’re hoping it would be Steve King, so it’s a two for one,” Dahms said. “Hopefully, Braley would win and defeat Steve King, and then [King] would lose his Congressional seat as well.”

Braley was recently elected to his fourth term in Congress. He beat his Republican challenger Ben Lange with roughly 57 percent of the vote to win the 1st Congressional District.

One Republican Party official said Braley may also have to face a primary challenger, and Iowans may not warm up to him during the general election.

“Iowans will get to know Bruce Braley, and find he is a Nancy Pelosi candidate running on the Democratic ticket in Iowa,” said A.J. Spiker, chairman of the Iowa GOP.

Spiker said the Republican Party has yet to have anyone announce intentions to run for the nomination, but the state chairman expects announcements sometime between now and July or August. He views the primary as an “opportunity.”

“Republicans are well-prepared to win this seat, and I expect the national party and national Republican Senatorial Committee to weigh in,” he said. “Also, this is an open Senate seat, and our nominee will have the resources to win it.”

One rumored nominee, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said in an email to supporters he hadn’t made a decision. The email asked supporters to donate money after a report from the New York Times indicated Karl Rove’s super political-action committee may intervene in the primary if King decided to run.

“I haven’t made a decision on whether I’ll seek Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014, but Karl Rove is already launching attacks against me,” King said on his website. “Please help me fight back by making a donation to my campaign today.”

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