Iowa GOP senate primary field getting crowded

Rick Moran
Despite several high profile Republicans refusing to run for the senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin, there will be plenty of candidates from which Iowa GOP voters can choose.

Both current Governor Terry Branstad and conservative congressmen Steve King have declined to enter the race. But that leaves a wide open field for a candidate who can raise a lot of money quickly and generate enthusiasm among the faithful.

Politico:

Iowa Republicans appear to be headed for a packed 2014 Senate primary, with a second GOP candidate set to formally join the race and a new, outside-the-box contender floating himself for consideration Friday.

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker has already jumped into the campaign for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat. Sources confirmed to POLITICO that David Young, a former chief of staff to Iowa's Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, will also announce any day now.

Young has recruited colorful Republican ad-maker Fred Davis as an adviser, as well as a white-shoe polling firm, The Tarrance Group. The Iowa Republican website first reported Young's imminent entry into the race Thursday night.

Sara Taylor Fagen, a former political adviser to President George W. Bush, said she is advising Young in an unpaid capacity.

"David is a dear friend and I'm among his strongest supporters. I plan to help him in any way I can including as strategic counsel. But, the only check that will be cashed is the one that I write to his campaign," Fagen wrote in an email.

A third contender, Sioux City radio talker Sam Clovis, told the Sioux City Journal that he, too, may seek to run for Senate. He told the paper: "I think [voters] are ready for a red-meat conservative."

Clovis, a professor at Morningside College, endorsed Rick Santorum in the 2012 presidential caucus and stumped as a campaign surrogate for the former Pennsylvania senator.

And the Republican field is likely to keep growing: state Sen. Joni Ernst, Secretary of State Matt Schultz and Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker have expressed interest in the race. Mark Jacobs, a wealthy former oil executive who heads an education nonprofit, has also popped up at local GOP events in recent weeks and met with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Democrats, meanwhile, have closed ranks around a single candidate: fourth-term Congressman Bruce Braley, who raised over $1 million for his campaign in the first quarter of the year.
Braley has a huge head start and the advantage of a united party to support him. Whoever gets the Republican nomination from this field will be at disadvantage in the general election - unless, as some GOP operatives are hoping, the candidate can self-finance. That's the reason Jacobs, a political novice, is getting a serious look by national Republicans.

There are better targets out there in 2014 than the Iowa senate race and the GOP would just as soon concentrate their resources in states where they have a more realistic shot at a pick up. A candidate who can spend millions of his own money would be ideal in a state where the chances of a GOP victory are less than 50-50.

But Jacobs is complete unknown while some candidates - like Secretary of State Matt Schultz and Iowa party chairman A.J. Spiker - will have statewide name recognition. Having a lot of your own money to spend doesn't guarantee anything in a race that appears to be so wide open.

Despite several high profile Republicans refusing to run for the senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin, there will be plenty of candidates from which Iowa GOP voters can choose.

Both current Governor Terry Branstad and conservative congressmen Steve King have declined to enter the race. But that leaves a wide open field for a candidate who can raise a lot of money quickly and generate enthusiasm among the faithful.

Politico:

Iowa Republicans appear to be headed for a packed 2014 Senate primary, with a second GOP candidate set to formally join the race and a new, outside-the-box contender floating himself for consideration Friday.

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker has already jumped into the campaign for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat. Sources confirmed to POLITICO that David Young, a former chief of staff to Iowa's Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, will also announce any day now.

Young has recruited colorful Republican ad-maker Fred Davis as an adviser, as well as a white-shoe polling firm, The Tarrance Group. The Iowa Republican website first reported Young's imminent entry into the race Thursday night.

Sara Taylor Fagen, a former political adviser to President George W. Bush, said she is advising Young in an unpaid capacity.

"David is a dear friend and I'm among his strongest supporters. I plan to help him in any way I can including as strategic counsel. But, the only check that will be cashed is the one that I write to his campaign," Fagen wrote in an email.

A third contender, Sioux City radio talker Sam Clovis, told the Sioux City Journal that he, too, may seek to run for Senate. He told the paper: "I think [voters] are ready for a red-meat conservative."

Clovis, a professor at Morningside College, endorsed Rick Santorum in the 2012 presidential caucus and stumped as a campaign surrogate for the former Pennsylvania senator.

And the Republican field is likely to keep growing: state Sen. Joni Ernst, Secretary of State Matt Schultz and Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker have expressed interest in the race. Mark Jacobs, a wealthy former oil executive who heads an education nonprofit, has also popped up at local GOP events in recent weeks and met with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Democrats, meanwhile, have closed ranks around a single candidate: fourth-term Congressman Bruce Braley, who raised over $1 million for his campaign in the first quarter of the year.
Braley has a huge head start and the advantage of a united party to support him. Whoever gets the Republican nomination from this field will be at disadvantage in the general election - unless, as some GOP operatives are hoping, the candidate can self-finance. That's the reason Jacobs, a political novice, is getting a serious look by national Republicans.

There are better targets out there in 2014 than the Iowa senate race and the GOP would just as soon concentrate their resources in states where they have a more realistic shot at a pick up. A candidate who can spend millions of his own money would be ideal in a state where the chances of a GOP victory are less than 50-50.

But Jacobs is complete unknown while some candidates - like Secretary of State Matt Schultz and Iowa party chairman A.J. Spiker - will have statewide name recognition. Having a lot of your own money to spend doesn't guarantee anything in a race that appears to be so wide open.