Political Animal


February 27, 2013 4:01 PM Run, Steve, Run!

By Ed Kilgore

Word’s just in that U.S. Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) will not run for Tom Harkin’s open Senate seat in 2014. He was far-and-away the favorite among Republicans more interested in winning the seat than in ideology, particularly since the most likely alternative, the fire-eating nativist and all-around wingnut, Latham’s House colleague Steve King, has been trailing probable Democratic nominee Bruce Braley in early trial heats. And it was widely rumored King would defer to Latham because the latter did the former the courtesy of running in a different district in 2012 when their previous districts were combined after redistricting.

National pundits will immediately attribute this development to the heavy-handed statement by Karl Rove’s hireling at American Crossroads that its new Conservative Victory Fund would try to keep King from taking the Senate nomination—which King immediately used to raise money, and which might have ultimately provoked him into jumping in. There’s really no telling what happened behind the scenes. And King hasn’t made a move yet, though if he wants the nomination, it’s hard to think of anyone other than Latham who could come close to beating him in a primary (not even Gov. Terry Branstad, in the unlikely event he could be talked into a vicious Senate race instead of running for his sixth term as governor or just hanging it up).

But Democrats should not engage in any premature celebrations: crazy as he is, King is a wily and effective retail politician who will be rolling in national right-wing money.

There is one interesting footnote to today’s developments. Latham’s statement of non-candidacy had this interesting explanation of his decision:

[O]nly 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. 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.

Hard to see how King wouldn’t be doing exactly the same thing. Whoever wrote Latham’s statement should have thought of that. Or maybe he/she knew more about King’s intentions than the rest of us.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on February 27, 2013 4:48 PM:

    Oh, PLEASE let King run!

    Imagine how, like a 4th rate standup comic in the hinterlands, once he's given an opportunity to be in the national spotlight, this festering moron will feel the need to crank-up his "TEH STOOOOOOOPI!"

    He'll make Akins and Mourdoch look like feminists, and the KKK look like a pro-immigration, pro-black, pro-women, pro-Latino, and pro-Gay, group.

    This boy's got an infinite amount of "TEH STOOOOOOOOPID" in 'im!!!

  • Peter C on February 27, 2013 4:52 PM:

    I think if King doesn't run, it will demonstrate conclusively that he's a complete coward and wimp.

    (There, I've done my part.)

  • exlibra on February 27, 2013 5:13 PM:

    Latham's decision and statement were pluperfect; it saved him engaging in a vicious primary, where all the rabid base was likely to come out, baying. And it set him up as a responsible, thoughtful lawmaker, who cares about his constituents. As opposed to you-know-who.

  • mb on February 27, 2013 8:50 PM:

    King might seem like Akin 2.0, but there is a distinct possibility of him winning. We do not need any more wackos in the Senate. One of the scariest things to me about letting crazies into the Senate is that the crazy person immediately gets endowed with senatorial gravitas. Somehow, crazies can continue in the House forever and never get the gloss of respectability that a Senate seat commands. I hope King takes a pass.