Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 25, 2015

Iowa: Braley’s Gubernatorial Aspirations and Tea Leaves for Harkin’s Re-Election Decision

Iowa Democrats are publicly pushing for Braley to run for governor in the state's largest newspaper. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley has stepped up his interest in running for governor of Iowa in 2014, according to a weekend report in the Des Moines Register.

The four-term lawmaker has long eyed statewide office, but it has been unclear whether Braley would try to run for governor or Senate in 2014. Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad, a Republican, has not announced yet whether he will seek another term.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin has not said definitively whether he will run for re-election in 2014. But Braley’s focus on the gubernatorial race comes at a confluence of events that could indicate Harkin is leaning toward running for another term:

  • Instead of keeping their powder dry this early in the cycle, Iowa Democrats are publicly pushing Braley to run for governor in the state’s largest newspaper. 
  • Last week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, told a local newspaper, “I have seen no indication that [Harkin] is not going to run.” In recent years, Grassley and Harkin have not campaigned against each other — although neither has had a competitive re-election race for at least a decade.
  • Harkin keeps bringing in big bucks for his campaign. He will host a fundraiser next month at a Lady Gaga concert. Politicians deplore fundraising, so members looking at retirement generally avoid raising money because they don’t need it anymore. Of course, it’s possible Harkin is a Lady Gaga fan.
  • Either way, money talks — and Harkin reported $2.7 million in the bank at the end of September. That’s the second-highest cash on hand of any Democrat up for re-election in 2014. That kind of figure often — but not always — indicates a senator is gearing up for a big campaign.

So does all this point to Harkin running for a sixth term? Who knows — but it seems Braley and other Iowa Democrats might think so.

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