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Decision 2014: Harkin to retire

ILLINOIS: Politico of ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson: “A white ex-congresswoman with an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association is the front-runner to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in a majority-black Chicagoland district with inner-city neighborhoods wracked by gun violence… Sixteen other candidates are vying for the Democratic nod, and all of her formidable competitors are African-American. That creates a possibility that the black vote will splinter, opening a path for Halvorson.” More: “Now, black leaders — concerned about Halvorson’s position atop polls — say they’re prepared to make gun control the central issue in the contest. The goal is to paint her as an NRA ally who’s too conservative for the seat and insensitive to Chicago’s rising tide of gun violence.”

IOWA: Sen. Tom Harkin (D) won’t run for reelection in 2014. Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is thinking about running. But the Des Moines Register also floats the names of Tom and Christie Vilsack, as well as ex-Gov. Chet Culver. Culver’s father was a U.S. senator.

“On the GOP side, at the top of the list is U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, who has represented 56 of Iowa’s 99 counties as he embarks on his 19th year in Congress. … U.S. Rep. Steve King, who fires up the Iowa GOP base like no one else, is also a possibility, several Republican political operatives said. Another hot prospect: Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who holds one of the highest-profile elected offices in Iowa and has been an integral part of Gov. Terry Branstad’s initiatives. A host of other Republican names are circulating in GOP circles, including former Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, but GOP operatives said a bid by Latham could clear the field.”

Politico calls Harkin’s retirement “the latest early break for Republicans in their long-shot bid to seize control of the Senate in 2014. The move puts Iowa in play and comes on the heels of Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement in West Virginia, which gave Republicans a likely pickup. Another potential Democratic retirement in a red state looms in South Dakota, where Sen. Tim Johnson is expected to decide soon whether to pursue a third term. And in Massachusetts, a new poll shows Republican Scott Brown — who’s mulling whether to run for Senate this year or governor in 2014 — up by double digits in a potential race for the seat of Democrat John Kerry, who will likely be confirmed as secretary of state.”