King leans toward Senate bid4/10/2013
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, who recently has characterized his likelihood of running for the Senate as something of a toss-up, went further last Monday.
“I think that needle’s just a little over 50-50 right now, just a little over,” King said in an interview.
Speaking after an economic-development session in Greene County, King said he’s intently examining a potential bid for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.
“That decision isn’t made, and I do have some data back,” King said.
The congressman said he would place “all the pieces on the table” in a few days. His team has commissioned statewide “kitchen sink” polling, King said.
“One thing is, the more you know about a district or a state, and by now, I’ve learned quite a lot about Iowa, the more questions you have,” King said.
King is widely viewed as the front-runner among possible GOP candidates for the Senate, a conservative who possibly even could clear a primary field, setting up a long, bruising fight with the only declared Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo.
Should King opt to remain in his 4th District congressional seat, representing 39 counties in western and central Iowa, the decision should not be viewed as a reflection of the Iowa conservative movement’s prospects of successfully pitching a message beyond solid GOP regions like northwest Iowa to a statewide electorate, the congressman said.
“I don’t know who might interpret it that way,” King said. “I wouldn’t have been thinking about it in that fashion at all. There are so many factors involved.”
Regardless of his decision, King said, observers will assign many motivations to it.
“I know that the decision cannot include in the analysis anything that has to do with settling a score or teaching anyone a lesson or my ego,” King said. “Those three things have to go in the trash heap and the analytical data looked at objectively. And I don’t know if any human being can make a decision completely devoid of all of that. But I’m in the process of trying to do that.”
If King doesn’t enter the Senate race, two potential Republican candidates are Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Both have credentials as Christian constitutional conservatives the way King defines that term, the Kiron congressman said.
“I think so,” King said. “I mean, I have not taken each of them down through the paces in every aspect of it. I don’t know that either one of them have been challenged to that the way a person is if they’ve been in public life the way I have over the last 10 or 16 years. But I think they are good, solid, instinctive constitutional people.”
King already has constructed a national brand and platform from the 4th District.
“That’s true, and how much leverage does that have?” King said. “I think that a U.S. Senate seat would have four or five or six more times that kind of leverage if it’s used to the max. That’s a piece of it.”
He said the institutional components of the Senate are attractive as well, referencing specifically a senator’s role with judicial and presidential appointments and “being able to put a hold on a bill.”
“The other side of that is the possibility — and maybe even potentially the likelihood — of going into the minority,” King said.
Democrats now control the U.S. Senate, with Republicans having the numbers advantage in the House. CV
Douglas Burns, a co-owner of The Carroll Daily Times Herald, is a fourth-generation Iowa journalist who offers columns for Cityview.