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Branstad backs Latham for Senate

“I want Tom Latham to run because he’d win.”

Iowa’s five-term Republican governor wants veteran Rep. Tom Latham to be his party’s nominee in 2014 for the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin and fellow Rep. Steve King to wait to run for the Hawkeye State’s other Senate seat.

In an exclusive interview with Human Events during the National Governors Association meeting in Washington on Saturday, Gov. Terry Branstad revealed why he supports 20-year Rep. Latham rather than seven-termer King for the open Senate seat next year.

“I want Tom Latham to run because he’d win,” Branstad told us without hesitation, explaining that “Tom already represents 56 of our state’s 99 counties in the House. He’s a conservative and he can win.”

As to why he didn’t feel the same way about King–a swashbuckling conservative best known for his hardline opposition to illegal immigration, Branstad replied: “Steve’s a great guy and a good friend. But remember: he’s running in a new district [after redistricting in 2011] and had a tough fight last year against [Democrat] Christy Vilsack [the wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor]. Conservatives love him but it will take a lot of work for him to develop a campaign beyond his district.”

Should six-term Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley step down in 2016, Branstad quickly added, “I would support Steve for the Senate. He’s really effective, but first, he needs to nail down that new district of his in North Central Iowa.” Latham and King, the state’s two Republican House Members, are both exploring a bid for the Senate in 2014 and King recently told Human Events he was “50-50” on making the race. The likely Democratic nominee is far-left Rep. Bruce Braley, a protege of Sen. Harkin and past president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.

When we asked Branstad if he would like to run for the Senate, he quipped: “I would love to run but just not serve.”

Will he seek a sixth non-consecutive term in 2016 we asked, and thus become the longest-serving governor of any state in American history?

“We’ll see,” Branstad said.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as ???the man who knows everyone in Washington??? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on what???s going on in the nation???s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as ???Gizzi on Politics??? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of ???Gizzi???s America,??? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. John???s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com