William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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JOB OPENING – AT 11:52 A.M. ET:  A major Senate Democrat has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2014, providing another opportunity for Republicans.  From The Hill:

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will retire from the Senate at the end of 2014, the five-term senator said Saturday.

Harkin said his decision not to seek a sixth term was based, in part, because he wanted to give a new generation of Iowa Democrats the chance to run for higher office.

"It's just time to step aside," Harkin, 73, told the Associated Press in an interview.

Harkin told the Des Moines Register on Saturday that he had mixed feelings about the decision.

“To walk away from this position and this power is not an easy thing,” he said. “But I think it’s the right thing. And I have two years left. I’m not passing the torch sitting down — it’s a running relay. I intend to be very active over the next two years.”

COMMENT:  Iowa is competitive.  It elects Republicans as well as Democrats.  Its other senator is Chuck Grassley, a Republican who has been in the Senate since 1981. 

Republicans had vast opportunities for gains in the Senate in both 2010 and 2012, and blew them both times with goofball candidates, some right out of the stone ages.  With solid candidates, I estimate that the Senate could have had a slim GOP majority by now.  There were relatively easy wins in Delaware, Missouri, Nevada, Missouri, North Dakota and Colorado.  There was an avoidable loss in Indiana.     

Let's see if the party has learned.  But even if it's learned some lessons at the national level, candidates are selected at the state level, where political fringe groups often have inordinate power. 

Our next big electoral fight is 2014...next year.  It will be upon us very quickly.

January 27, 2013