Iowa Senator Tom Harkin to Retire; Joins Chambliss, Rockefeller

Tom Harkin

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin (D)  is set to join Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) and West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller (D) in retirement at the end of the current term.  Harkin said his age was a driving factor in his decision.  He would have been 81 by the end of another term.

News of Harkin’s announced retirement is particularly “newsworthy” for two reasons.  Iowa is, of course, a pivotal swing state; and Harkin is one of the most liberal members of the senior chamber.  His departure could open the door for Republicans to pick up a seat.

Obvious front-runners for the Republican challenge to the open seat would have to be Representative Steve King and Governor Terry Branstad.  King’s a solid conservative and Branstad’s been Governor for five terms (not consecutively).  The incumbency of Harkin probably would have kept both seeking re-election to their current posts, but his retirement may just be the window both have been waiting for.

I, admittedly, know very little about the Iowa bench for the other side, so I’ll defer to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air for the Dem side of things…

Now, Democrats will have to bloody themselves in a primary the same as Republicans.  They have two former governors who might give it a run: Chet Culver and Tom Vilsack, currently the Secretary of Agriculture in the Obama administration. That may not help Vilsack, especially if Iowans want to look in a more independent direction as the Obama administration shifts significantly leftward in the next two years, and gun control will be a big issue in Iowa for anyone connected to the White House now.

More at Memeorandum…

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