Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) has formed a committee to explore a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). An open Senate seat in Iowa, a key swing state, is a rarity. The last time was in 1974. Fitting for such a swing state is that for over a quarter of a century, the state has been represented in the Senate by a Democrat, Harkin, and a Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
So far Braley has no primary opponents, but Christie Vilsack, wife of former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack (D), might run against Braley in the primary.
The Republicans have two likely candidates, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who defeated Vilsack to keep his House seat in November, and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA). King is a conservative firebrand, which works well in his very conservative House district, but may not play as well state wide. Latham is far more moderate. Initial polling shows that Braley would demolish King, but barely squeak by Latham. Nevertheless, the prospect of losing the general election does not seem to deter Republicans from nominating tea party candidates like King, and they could easily do it again as the Iowa Republican Party is very conservative.