After nearly three months of speculation, Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds has decided not to run for Iowa's vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2014, Republican sources familiar with her decision told NBC News.
Reynolds, who is in her first term as lieutenant governor, was viewed as one of a handful of GOP front-runners in the upcoming race to challenge Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, especially with Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, now appearing to lean against a run.
Longtime 73-year-old Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced his retirement in late January and paved the way for the first open senate seat election in Iowa in three decades. No female has ever served in Congress from Iowa -- nor assumed the role of governor. Sources close to Reynolds suggest she is more interested in being groomed to replace Republican Gov. Terry Branstad in the future rather than head to Washington.
It is still unclear when Reynolds will announce her decision.
The question now turns to just who on the Republican side will jump into the race.
Earlier this year, it had been widely speculated that King would take on the challenge, although some are now doubting the likelihood he will run.
Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey may also potentially launch a bid.
Other names that have surfaced as potential candidates include Secretary of State Matt Schultz, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, former gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts, and social conservative leader and former gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats.
This story was originally published on Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:24 PM EDT