Will Steve King be the Fifth Sitting GOP Cong. to Lose to Harkin?

First it was Bill Scherle, the then incumbent Republican Congressman who Tom Harkin dispatched back in 1974. Then it was Tom Tauke, who as a sitting GOP Representative lost in his bid to challenge by then Senator Harkin in 1990. In 1996 it was Jim Ross Lightfoot's turn to play the role of the sitting GOP Congressman to lose to Harkin, and in 2002 it was time for Republican Rep. Greg Gansketo to lose to Harkin. In fact, it's as if a run against Harkin is where sitting Republican members of Congress from Iowa go to end their careers.

It looks like Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham, who was rumored to be looking at a run earlier this summer, isn't edging any closer to mounting a challenge against Harkin. That seems to leave Steve King to become Congressman number five to lose to Harkin -- and King isn't doing much to tamp down speculation.

Iowa 5th Congressman Steve King will likely announce who he'll support for president in 2008 before he'll decide on his own political future.

Republican King said he's undecided on whether he'll give up the seat he's held for three terms for a run at the U.S. Senate. The senate seat held by Democrat Tom Harkin will be before voters in 11 months.

King said it would be an expensive proposition to run for the Senate, and he likes serving Iowans in the U.S. House. But he acknowledged he gets lots of support from Iowa Republicans to pursue another office, either the senate or governorship in 2010.

Trust me, I'm not wishing a tough or long 11 months for Harkin. Nevertheless, it wouldn't be so bad to see him lure another Republican Congressman to his defeat this cycle. Harkin is looking as strong as ever, with more than $3 million in the bank and an approval spread of 58 percent positive/37 percent negative according to SurveyUSA last month -- his best showing according to the pollster in two and a half years. King, on the other hand, has raised less than $200,000 so far this cycle, has just $114,624 in the bank and is sitting on more than $21,000 in debts.

It's worth noting that a decision to retire from the House and run for the Senate by King wouldn't provide House Democrats with a tremendous pick up opportunity. The district he currently represents, Iowa's fifth, leans about 8 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index. That said, every other open seat House Republicans must defend, even in GOP-leaning districts, makes it harder for the party to hold its other seats. So a King run for Senate, which would likely prove futile, could actually be a bit of bad news for the GOP as a whole.

Tags: House 2008, IA-05, IA-Sen, Iowa, Senate 2008 (all tags)



Re: Will Steve King be the Fifth Sitting GOP Cong.

I'm glad Harkin's our record setter. His line on beating more Congressman than anyone in history gets some huge cheers here. He is up for who ever they put up.

by danIA 2007-12-03 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Steve King be the Fifth Sitting GOP Cong.
King won't run.  The only GOP reps that made it close against Harkin were those who had some sort of base in the more heavily populated eastern part of the state.
King lacks the resources and stature to make the race competitive.  
by ChgoSteve 2007-12-03 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Steve King be the Fifth Sitting

I could have sworn Harkin has defeated 5 sitting  Republican congressmen in his career as a politician.  I heard him speak in Minnesota at the DFL dinner late last school year.  

As for my prediction, I don't see him risking the loss when he clearly has aspirations for higher office in 2010.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-12-03 07:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Steve King be the Fifth Sitting

He has defeated four sitting Congressman and a sitting Senator, so five sitting Republican members of Congress (but four GOP Reps.).

by Jonathan Singer 2007-12-03 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Steve King be the Fifth Sitting GOP Cong.

Harkin would crush King and in the process get out more of the vote in a swing state. If King thinks he can beat Harkin, he's delusional -- and he just might be -- but I bet the Republican congressional committee will talk King out of it because they don't want to have to defend that district. They probably could retain the seat, but wouldn't want to put in the effort this year.

by jcullen 2007-12-03 09:00PM | 0 recs
I hope King runs against Harkin

Harkin would absolutely crush him.

We have no hope of winning the 5th district, but almost any other Republican would be an improvement on King. He is among the worst of the worst--a true bigot.

by desmoinesdem 2007-12-03 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Will Steve King be the Fifth Sitting GOP Cong.

Given how crazy King is and the fact that he keeps getting reelected, I don't really see the Republicans having to expend very many resources to protect his seat.  It would be much better if Latham ran against Harkin, since he would also get beat and his district is much more winnable.

by ashriver 2007-12-04 06:06AM | 0 recs
Careful what you wish for

I wouldn't be too gung ho on having either King or Latham run against Harkin (although getting a shot at Latham's House seat would be nice).  Remember that Harkin's toughest reelection so far was against Jim Lightfoot, who on paper looked far weaker than most of the other opponents he's had over the years.  Lightfoot was more conservative than Greg Ganske or Tom Tauke, and his home base was in the sparsely populated and disproportionately Republican southwest of Iowa (which, to be fair, is also Harkin's home base).  He didn't even have a strong base in his House district to start from, having barely won in 1992 and then won by an unimpressive margin for a Republican incumbent in 1994.  To top it all off, 1996 was a reasonably good year for the Dems in Iowa.  For all that, Lightfoot gave Harkin his closest reelection ever, and might even have won except that he went overboard with an extremely negative ad on the abortion issue.  So I would not put it past Steve King to make a real race of it if he does run.

by RamblinDave 2007-12-07 05:10AM | 0 recs


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