Latham not running for Senate in Iowa

February 27, 2013

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) isn't running for the Senate in 2014, he announced on Wednesday, citing a commitment to the voters who elected him to the House.

"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," Latham said in an e-mail to supporters. "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, at a time when our nation desperately needs less campaigning and more leadership."

Latham had been mulling a bid for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat and was viewed as a top potential prospect. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) talked him up over the weekend at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington.

The next big question in the Senate race is whether Rep. Steve King (R), who some Republicans fear would doom the GOP's prospects of picking up the seat, will run. King, who is closely considering a run, is known for his outspoken views and very conservative politics. Latham's decision makes King's potential path to the GOP nomination look easier, at least at this point.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is running and should have the inside track to the nomination.

Update 5:37 p.m.: Some have suggested that Latham didn't totally rule out a run in his statement, but merely said that he didn't want to spend two years campaigning (i.e. he could enter the race later). Latham's office has not responded to a request for comment, but Latham chief of staff James Carstensen told the Hotline's Alex Brown "It's interesting what people are reading into [it]. It's pretty clear to me." But Carstensen also wouldn't flatly deny that the statement left some wiggle room.

Update at 5:57 p.m.: King says in a statement: "A potential Senate race remains an analytical decision first and then one that requires deep conviction. Such a decision includes, of course, my family and the best interests of Iowans and Americans. It is too big a decision to be rushed."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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