October 2, 2014

Northey says his decision on U.S. Senate race to come in “days”

State Ag Secretary Bill Northey says he is “getting close” to a decision about his political future and it could be “just days” until he decides whether he’ll run for the U.S. Senate.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds announced on Tuesday that she has decided against a bid for the senate seat now held by Democrat Tom Harkin. Northey says it’s come down to “family and personal issues” rather than political considerations for him.

“I really believe that politically it could be done,” Northey told Radio Iowa. “I believe it could work for me and lots of other people. I certainly believe it could have worked for Kim and I know it could work as well for the congressman.”

Republican Congressman Steve King told KSCJ Radio on Tuesday morning that he is “still on the bubble” about a run for the senate. Northey said late Tuesday afternoon that he “loves” his current role as the state’s top agricultural officer, but running for the senate is a “tremendous opportunity.”

“I certainly get the sense that there’s support to be able to run,” Northey said. “I think there’s going to be no problem with anybody, at the end of this race, with name I.D., you know, after all the money that’s going to be spent on this.”

One consideration for Northey is his farming operation. He still works the ground on his farm near Spirit Lake, land that’s been in the family since the 1930s and Northey says it wouldn’t be easy to walk away from that.

“I do have other family there that can farm it, that I could rent to,” Northey said, “but it wouldn’t be the same as me being able to get out and farm myself.”

Northey said he is approaching this decision with his “eyes wide open” and full knowledge of the time committment that’s required.

“You know the race, the next 18 months, is going to be very intense,” Northey said.

Northey is 53 years old. He was elected state ag secretary 10 years ago. His present term expires in 2014.

Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley announced in early February that he was running for the senate. He’s raised over a million dollars since then and this past weekend Senator Harkin said Braley had “emerged” as the Democrats’ nominee, with a clear path to his party’s senate nomination. Northey said if Congressman King runs, King will “clear the field” of all other Republicans, including Northey.