With all due respect to Senator Harkin

What are you thinking?

Unless this column is the only thing you read in this paper you’ve heard that Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is not going to seek relection in 2014; thereby dooming us all.

I don’t know if you agree with Senator Harkin’s politics, disagree with his politics, or are a member of one of those ironically named “Truther” groups that believes Senator Harkin never really existed and is the result of an elaborate government cover up.

I miss when those guys only cared about alien invasions and JFK.

Whatever you may think of his politics, we can all agree that when a senator who has been reelected every time since 1985 decides to retire to the farm they keep for filming those “I’m just like one of you guys” commercials, there is going to be trouble.

And by “trouble” I mean a national media storm the likes of which we haven’t seen since the last time Air Force One was wheels up from Des Moines International.

I suppose people might consider it quaint, in these modern times to be a state where two different political parties control the two houses of the legislature or a state where you may not like your Republican governor’s policies but you can respect the man for refusing to give a “State of the State” speech because that sounds “silly.”

Well, we don’t consider it “quaint” or “folksy” or any other euphemism for “outdated” that may be levied against us. Our bipartisan, dare I say rational politics are important to us.

And now, Senator Harkin, you have doomed us all to the inevitable onslaught of national party politics, endless media buys, and a slew of out of state operatives telling us that we can “win back our state!”

If the condescension from either of the national parties, who seem to pin all their hopes for an Iowa victory to a chambray shirt and a photo op with a tractor, wasn’t enough to make you consider Canadian citizenship, then how about this: Think for a moment about just how many candidates are licking their chops over that senate seat.

It’s going to be calling all cars for the 2014 election and the candidates are lining up.

Rep. Bruce Braley, who I’m told is a Democrat from eastern Iowa, looks poised to run using his unique position of being the only Iowa Democrat in a national office that isn’t named Loebsack.

Rep. Steve King (R-ight out of his mind) is considering a run, most likely on a platform of more guns, less foreigners, and more foreign guns (those German pistols are a-MAZE-ing!).

Republican Rep. Tom Latham seems like the top choice for the GOP to run. He’s a staunch fiscal conservative, very anti-drug (particularly meth) and is the Dean of Iowa’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, so he knows the territory.

But … he’s a friend of John Boehner. Yeah, THAT John Boehner … the one that cries. The only Speaker of the House to make people say “Hey, remember when Newt Gingrich had that job? Wasn’t that great?”

And that’s just the top sheet; they’re going to be coming out of the woodwork to run for this office. People are bandying about names like former Governor Chet Culver, who I can imagine is, at this very moment, simultaneously playing flag football while eating a cheese-steak.

And who would want to give that up to run for the senate?

Vilsack? No. He already got to be Governor, then he Gene Chiziked us for the big time as the Secretary of Agriculture.

Branstad? I don’t think he even likes being governor, let alone running for senator.

So now we come to the dregs, and when you’re in the dregs in Iowa, you’re going to run into Bob Vander Platts.

You know Big Bob is going to run, you just know it! It’s a chance to do the things that Bob seems to love most: riding around in a giant bus, making some thinly veiled hate speech under the guise of politics, and losing.

This is what you’ve wrought, Senator Harkin. You’ve taken what would have been a rational, by the numbers election and turned it into an open invitation for messy party politics, faceless Super PACs and, worst of all, the kind of election where I have to talk about Bob Vander Platts again!

What are you thinking?!

Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or wburns@timesrepublican.com.