Republican Congressman Tom Latham — speaking publicly for the first time about his decision not to run for reelection in 2014 — said he made the move for personal, not political reasons.
“Last weekend my wife and I decided that, you know, there’s no perfect time, there’s no right time, but for us this is the time,” Latham said. “We will have been married 39 years. Half of that time I was on the road with the family business. The other half I spent on the road in congress, gone, and it’s just the right time for us. It’s a personal decision…I’ve got five grandchildren, a great family. I just look forward to a change.”
Latham, though, was emotional as he talked about his long career in congress.
“I love the job. I still get a chill every time I walk across the street in Washington and see Miss Liberty on top of the dome. You know, for a kid from Alexander, Iowa, (with a population of) 168 people, to have that honor — it’s really something, ” Latham said, his voice breaking. “And so it’s an emotional thing. It’s a job I love, but it’s the right time.”
Latham joked that he’s been fielding lots of phone calls from fellow Republicans who are considering running for the seat. Latham will not endorse a candidate in the primary, but he will help the Republican nominee campaign through the fall election. Latham said he’d consider taking another job after his term is up, including a lobbying position, but he intends to live in the Des Moines suburb of Clive, close to his grandchildren.
“It has been the honor of my life to represent now a total of 56 counties in Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Latham said. “Certainly there’s a relief as far as going through an election process, but I expect to stay totally involved to represent the folks here.”
Latham was criticized by some conservatives and Tea Party activists for his recent votes for the budget deals that ended the government shutdown in October and will prevent a shutdown in 2014. Latham said today that criticism had no impact on his decision.
“You know, my votes are my votes and I’ve always thought in this job that if you do the right thing for the right reasons, you don’t worry about it,” Latham said. “And I was probably, politically, in the strongest position I’ve ever been my career so, no, this is a purely personal decision.”
Latham was first elected to congress in 1994. In 2012 Latham faced off in Iowa’s new third congressional district against incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell and won by nearly nine percentage points. Latham made his comments late this morning during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight on Iowa Public Television.