Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa Won’t Seek Re-Election

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 26 2013 1:26 PM

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa Won’t Seek Sixth Term

158209385
Sen. Tom Harkin passed up the chance to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee in November, choosing to stay on as head of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans got some good news Saturday when Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa announced he won’t be seeking re-election next year, giving the GOP a chance at a seat in the swing state. Harkin was first elected in 1984 and ranks seventh in seniority in the Senate. But he’s still the junior senator from Iowa, outranked by Sen. Charles Grassley, who has held his seat since 1980.

"I just think it's time for me to step aside," the 73-year-old senator told the Associated Press. In a statement, Harkin said that in addition to his age, he also wants to make good on a promise to his wife that “we’re going to live together in a way we’ve often talked about—before it gets too late." Harkin recognized to the Des Moines Register that “to walk away from this position and this power is not an easy thing” but insisted he won’t be “passing the torch sitting down. … I intend to be very active over the next two years.”

Harkin, long one of the more liberal members of the Senate, will likely most be remembered for his key role in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. It’s widely expected that Rep. Bruce Braley, a fourth-term Democrat, will seek to take over Harkin’s seat. But Republicans are also hopeful they may finally be able to pick up a seat in Iowa. “It’ll be wide-open as far as both parties,” Republican state chairman A.J. Spiker tells Politico. “Iowa is so purple. It’s just a really purple state. Our nominee will be well positioned.” Democrats now have to defend open seats in Iowa, Massachusetts, and West Virginia, details the New York Times.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.