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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Harkin Retiring

Excuse me, I need to pick my jaw up off the floor. Talk about blindsided.

Every indication, from the increasing pace of emails to the Lady Gaga fundraiser to the role in the Iowa Democratic Party chair race, was telling me that Tom Harkin was in for one more term. It was a key assumption during the rah-rah speeches last night at our post-election volunteer party.

This. Changes. Everything. in the calculus for next year's elections. It amps every race in Iowa, from the courthouses to the Capitol, up to eleven as the national political infrastructure will descend on Iowa for a must-win race.

The 800 pound gorilla here is Bruce Braley, whose Iowa Press appearance this week is suddenly obsolete with all speculation revolving around governor. My bet is this shifts to Senate and he either gets a walkover in the primary, as then-congressman Harkin did in 1984, or he dispatches a couple Some Dudes.

I can't intelligently speculate on the GOP side in the likely open 1st CD, where I expect another clown-car primary. But the race will be almost as big a deal for Dems as the Senate race.

That Iowa-Mississippi no women thing is huge for party activists. And Democrats are well situated with a potential candidate with 100% name ID in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, and a proven track record of winning in a light red district. And if, God forbid, she wouldn't win, she doesn't have to give up the present job. Say hello to Congresswoman Liz Mathis.

UPDATE: If as speculated we see a Steve King-Tom Latham primary, then we see three open, competitive House seatswhich just amps things up that much more.

And Braley, Mathis, and whoever may be the nominee for governor - we still need to deal with that - will be showered with friendly visits from Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley and Andrew Cuomo and Amy Klobuchar and the list goes on and on and on.

As for the man himself, I'm still looking ahead rather than back at the remarkable career. But Politico tweets: "No coincidence Harkin decides to call it a 30-yr Sen career the wknd after Sen declined to truly reform filibuster. Twas his passion."

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