As expected, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) yesterday announced that she will challenge Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R), but the opposite situation may be happening in Iowa. Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4), who is also expected to run statewide, made some surprising statements suggesting that he is not committed to a run for his state’s open US Senate seat.
Rep. Schwartz has been viewed as a probable statewide candidate since before last November’s election. It was originally believed that she would match up with Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in 2016, but when rumors surfaced pairing her with Gov. Corbett she did not dissuade the talk. With her formal announcement yesterday, Schwartz is now an official gubernatorial candidate and her safe Democratic congressional seat will yield a highly competitive party primary early next year.
Gov. Corbett’s favorability ratings have been poor during the past several months, and that provides a clear indication of vulnerability for next year. But, Schwartz is unlikely to have a clear path to the Democratic nomination. Already in the race is state Department of Revenue director Tom Wolf. Poised to enter is state Treasurer Rob McCord. Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who held Sen. Toomey to a 51-49 percent victory margin in 2010, is said to be a potential gubernatorial candidate.
Like Schwartz, King has been viewed as the presumptive Republican nominee to vie for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) seat ever since fellow GOP Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) announced that he would not run statewide. Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) is already an announced senatorial candidate. Statements King made this weekend, however, suggest he may be leaning against such a run.
The congressman, in an interview with Iowa PBS said a Senate race for him in the state would “slightly be an uphill battle” with Iowa having “turned a little to the left.” He then went onto say he will decide quickly in consideration of other potential Republican candidates such as Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and state Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey.
Despite his strong eight-point victory against 2012 Democratic nominee Christie Vilsack, the wife or US Agriculture Secretary and former governor Tom Vilsack, King is viewed as being too vocally conservative by many to win in a politically marginal state like Iowa. Statements knocking King from Crossroads GPS founder Karl Rove and pledges to spend money to deny him the nomination when it looked like he and Rep. Latham would oppose each other may have had a lasting effect. If King feels his national party leaders painting him into a corner may be enough to deny him a victory in a close race, then embarking upon such an effort would not be worth the price of risking what is now a relatively safe House seat.
Should King decide not to launch a Senate bid, this statewide race will be examined in a much different context. Should Schwartz win the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, the governor’s race there will quickly become a top-tier challenge campaign.