Harkin to Retire

Iowa’s about to get a lot more inter­est­ing before 2016.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin says he will not seek re-election in 2014.

The 73-year-old Harkin tells The Asso­ci­ated Press in an inter­view, “It’s just time to step aside,” because by the time he would fin­ish a sixth term, he would be 81.

Harkin said it would also allow a new gen­er­a­tion of Democ­rats to seek higher office.

The announce­ment comes as a sur­prise, con­sid­er­ing he had $2.7 mil­lion in his cam­paign war chest and was plan­ning a fundraiser next month.

Harkin played a lead role in urg­ing the Senate’s more lib­eral mem­bers to back the 2010 health care bill.

No Iowa Repub­li­cans have taken for­mal steps toward seek­ing the seat. Harkin’s deci­sion eases the bur­den on the GOP, who have to gain six seats to win the majority.

The mas­sive retire­ments of Democ­rats in the Sen­ate is a very real pos­si­bil­ity in the next few cycles.  What is it on aver­age, a third or more of that cau­cus is in their 70s and 80s?

Yes, that might mean “no blood” in the com­ing years, but it also means that by hang­ing on this long, many of them were snuff­ing out their own farm teams in their home states.  Not every place is like Madi­son or Wauke­sha where you’re trip­ping over politi­cians try­ing to replace a long-time veteran.

Iowa’s a place where both par­ties are fairly strong, with two long-sitting incum­bents in Harkin and Grass­ley.  Deter­min­ing its next sen­a­tor could be a fight for the ages in the Hawk­eye State.

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