Tom Harkin - U.S. Seante

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From the Associated Press on June 3, 2005:

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he’s working to build a statewide political organization that could lead to an eventual challenge to Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin in 2008.

“I want to have as much influence for Iowa as I can have at the national level, at the Iowa level,” said King. “If that works out, certainly that’s something I’d be taking a look at.”

While King said ‘I’m not logically and calculating to do that,’ he left little doubt that he’s pondered the issue, and he said building a statewide base could give him more clout with GOP presidential candidates traveling to the state.

Potential candidates already have begun testing the waters for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses. King said building a statewide base puts him in position to nudge the field toward his social conservatism.

“I think social conservatives have had more influence in the Republican Party for a long, long time, especially in this state,” said King.

“I think it’s very important to have the kind of base and influence so that I can help presidential candidates who come into this state in 2008 and help them all over the state,” said King. “All of those things appear to be laying the groundwork to run for Senate. If that’s what comes to pass later on, then that’s what happens.” …

King, a Kiron Republican, is in his second term in the House, and has raised eyebrows by launching an aggressive travel schedule that takes him all over the state, well beyond the limits of the western Iowa 5th District that he represents. …

A sharp conservative, King would offer a sharp contrast to Harkin, who casts himself as a populist and critics label him a traditional liberal. Harkin has proven himself one of the toughest campaigners in the state and he is now in his fourth six-year term in the Senate.

He ousted a sitting Republican senator in 1984, and has soundly defeated three GOP congressmen who challenged him.

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