Iowa: Club for Growth Mum on King's Potential Senate Bid

Rep. Steve King is rumored to be looking at the competitive Iowa Senate race. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Club for Growth has championed Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, as one of its most ardent House conservatives.

So what does the deep-pocketed and influential group think about King running for Senate in 2014? Not much, yet.

“In general, we don’t take stands on potential Senate races," spokesman Barney Keller said Tuesday. "When there’s a field, we’ll take a look at the race.”

King is just one of a few Republicans — including fellow Rep. Tom Latham — looking at the competitive, newly open seat race to succeed Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. CQ Roll Call rates the race as Leans Democratic. Iowa Republicans are trying to avoid a divisive primary, especially as Democrats start to coalesce behind four-term Rep. Bruce Braley, who said Sunday he's looking at the race.

Specifically, Iowa Republicans worry that King would dominate a GOP primary, but lose the general election.

Sound familiar? In recent cycles, conservatives supported several candidates in Republican primaries who lost the general election in key races. In 2012, the club dumped millions to help Richard E. Mourdock oust a longtime senator in the primary. Mourdock won the GOP nomination but lost the general election to now-Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

King has not approached the group about his interest in the Senate race, according to a source familiar with the situation. But there is some precedent for the club egging on a potential candidate.

Last cycle, the club publicly encouraged Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah to challenge Sen. Orrin G. Hatch in the primary. Club President Chris Chocola declared, "Run, Jason, Run" — but the lawmaker eventually decided against it.

Keller characterized the Chaffetz situation as an exception.

“As with every Senate race or congressional race, our members are interested in supporting the most pro-growth candidate," Keller said. "We have a process that I’m sure we’ll go through when it comes to Iowa senate race, and every other race.”

But it's clear by the numbers which House member the club would be inclined to support as a statewide candidate if it got involved in the Iowa race.

King boasts a high lifetime score of 95 percent with the club, while Latham rates a much lower 63 percent.