Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin says he will not seek re-election in 2014, The Huffington Post reports.
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 his decision would also allow a new generation of Democrats to seek higher office, the website says.
Rep. Bruce Braley is mentioned as a likely candidate for the Senate seat. Who do you think should run in 2014 from both parties? Tell us below in comments.
“More than 40 years ago, I came to Washington with a simple goal: help people," Harkin said today on his Facebook page. "It was that goal that has inspired me throughout my career and one that will continue to inspire my work."
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 next generation of Democratic candidates depended on whether Harkin, 73, chose to run again, party operatives told the Des Moines Register for an article published Thursday. 1st District U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo is the favored replacement, Democrats have said.
U.S. Rep. Tom Latham’s name is being tossed out as a possible candidate on the GOP side. Vacancies in the two congressional seats could lead to major primary battles in both districts, the newspaper said.
Asked who he thinks might run to replace him, Harkin said he read the Register’s article detailing how Iowa Democrats were waiting for him to make his move before they decide which positions to seek. If Harkin chose to stay in office, Braley might have considered running for governor. Braley has been talking privately with party power brokers about that in the last couple weeks, the Register reported.
The race for governor is the most fluid, the newspaper said, but decisions on who would run on the Democratic side also hinged on Harkin’s decision.
“As you so correctly wrote,” Harkin told the Register, “this really opens up a lot of opportunity and it really cascades down. … I certainly don’t want to be in any position of trying to hand-pick my successor. The Democrats will decide that.”
Harkin told the newspaper he hopes Democrats select a nominee who is “smart, savvy, knows how to put together a winning campaign and is a good pragmatic progressive.”
Braley told the Register Harkin is a friend and mentor who works for everyday Iowans and will be missed.
“Senator Harkin’s retirement is a huge loss for the people of Iowa,” Braley told the Register. “For over 30 years, Tom Harkin has been a progressive force in Washington. He’s dedicated his life to strengthening the middle class and standing up for people without a voice, and his life’s work, particularly with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Affordable Care Act, leaves a legacy that few will ever match.”