December 19, 2014

GOP insider doubts King, Northey or Reynolds will run for U.S. Senate

A key Republican Party insider expects three Iowa GOP office holders who’ve been mentioned as potential candidates for the U.S. Senate to decide against running.

Doug Gross, a former chief of staff for Republican Governor Terry Branstad, talked politics during this morning’s taping of IPTV’s  “Iowa Press” program.

“I do not expect Steve King to run,” Gross said. “I know he was here last week indicating that he’s analyzing it and usually when I’ve worked with politicians over the years, when they’re analyzing something, they’re usually trying to figure out how not to do it — because usually their gut tells them when they’re going to do it.”

Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey have confirmed they’re considering a run for the U.S. Senate, too, but Gross doesn’t think either will.

“So I don’t think we know who the candidate’s going to be right now,” Gross said.

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin announced in late January that he will not seek re-election in 2014. In early February, Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley announced he would run for the seat.

“It’s the first time it’s been open in decades. It’ll be hotly competitive, very competitive in an off-year when Republicans have a very good chance of winning. I think we’ll have a good candidate, I just can’t tell you who it’s going to be yet,” Gross said, with a laugh. “…There are more people eligible to run for senate than those who happen to hold a particular office at a particular time.”

Gross ran for governor in 2002, losing to Democrat Tom Vilsack. His advice to whomever decides to run: be prepared to work hard.

“Particularly as a Republican, you need to go to every county. I mean, it isn’t just Chuck Grassley’s schtick. As a Republican, you’ve got votes in every county and you need to go to every county and it’s a big state, so you really have to work it hard, so one thing I am concerned about is I’d like to see our candidates come forward this summer, no later than this summer because people need to get to know them it they’re going to have a good shot at winning,” Gross said. “One of the mistakes I think I made back in 2002 was getting in too late.”

Gross formally announced his candidacy in early March of that year, just three months before the primary. Gross went on to narrowly win the primary with nearly 36 percent of the GOP vote. Bob Vander Plaats — in the first of his three runs for governor — got just over 32 percent and former state Representative Steve Sukup got just under 32 percent.