Democrat Tom Harkin officially kicks off his bid for a fifth term in the U.S. Senate Monday morning. Harkin hinted at the themes of the 2008 campaign in a video that’s posted on his campaign website. "I will conduct this campaign — as I have every campaign — as a proud, fighting progressive," Harkin said.
Harkin, who was first elected to congress in 1974, is also presenting himself as a politician who’s made a career out of seeking change. "Change the means we have improved and better education for our kids; change that means we have a cleaner and healthier environment; a change that means we have better jobs for working people all over America; change that means we have vital, vibrant rural communities," Harkin said in the video, "and a change that means that America should once again be strong, liked and respected around the world not just because of our military arms but because we stand for things like human rights and against torture."
Harkin’s wife, Ruth, endorsed Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. But Harkin, who is 68, seems to be embracing some of the change mantra that 46-year-old Barack Obama has been emphasizing in his presidential run, as well as Obama’s emphasis on building a movement for change. "It’s time that we have some fundamental change. We need to change direction in this country and so I’m asking you to become a partner with us in this campaign. Join with us in restoring America and our state of Iowa to a great place, the great place it has been in the past," Harkin said in the campaign video. "I know we can do that, but it’s going to take change and it’s going to take all of us working together."
At least two Republicans are running in the June primary for the GOP’s spot to run against Harkin in the fall. George Eichhorn of Stratford is a former state legislator who is also emphasizing the change theme. "There’s a dissatisfaction. There’s a feeling that Washington’s broken and it’s time for someone new to step in and do something and try to get it back on the right path," Eichhorn said during an interview with KQWC Radio in Webster City.
Eichhorn served six years in the Iowa House before losing his bid for re-election in 2006. He made his intentions to run for the U.S. Senate public last week.
Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje announced he was running for the chance to oppose Harkin almost a year ago, back on March 6, 2007. "I’m not a professional politician nor do I claim to be. I am, however, a proud American, a lifelong Iowan and a successful businessman who knows a thing or two about Iowa values and fiscal responsibility," Rathje said during his announcement tour last year.
Harkin’s announcement tour starts Monday morning at nine o’clock with an event in his hometown of Cumming. He has stops planned in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Mason City, Sioux City and Council Bluffs as well.
Pat Powers of KQWC in Webster City contributed to this story.