Congressman Steve King says he’s not ruling out a bid to unseat Democratic Senator Tom Harkin in 2008. "I have not made a decision on whether or not to challenge Tom Harkin in ’08 or not," King says. "If and when that becomes clear to me, I will make an announcement right away."
King, a Republican who represents 32 western Iowa counties in congress, would become the fourth sitting Republican congressman to challenge Harkin if he runs. Harkin has defeated Tom Tauke, Jim Lightfoot and Greg Ganske — Republican congressmen who gave up their seats in congress to wage unsuccessful campaigns against Harkin.
"You really couldn’t have a brighter distinction between two people involved in public life. Tom Harkin sits on the one side. I sit on the other side. I’m for life, clearly, and I’m for slowing this growth of government — in some places shrinking it where I can. I’m for being aggressive in a strong national defense," King says. "…I don’t have a personal ax to grind with Tom Harkin. Personally I get along with him very well. We had a good conversation a couple of days ago. It’s philosophical and if that philosophy should drive me to enter into the race, then at that point I would make an annoucement."
Not only has Harkin defeated three sitting Iowa congressman to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate, Harkin unseated Republican Congressmen Bill Scherle to win a seat in the U.S. House in 1974. No other current U.S. Senator has defeated more Republican congressmen than Harkin has.
King says while 2008 looks like it’s shaping up to be a good election for Democrats, things can change in a heartbeat in politics and a Republican tide could sweep the country.
"Remember also that Tom Harkin hasn’t had what you’d call landslide victories over those Republicans," King says. "They have been close races each time, even when it looked like it shouldn’t be that close."
Harkin beat Ganske by 10 percent in 2002. Harkin beat Lightfoot by five percent in 1996 and Harkin beat Tauke by eight percent in 1990.
King has no "red letter date" on his calendar by which he will make his decision. "I haven’t felt compelled to make a decision on it yet," King says. "…If Newt Gingrich is hanging out there considering entering the presidency in late September, I think I’m good for a couple of months yet."
King is also mulling the idea of running for governor in 2010. King made his comments during taping of an Iowa Public Television program that airs Friday night at 7:30 and Sunday at 11:30 a.m.