ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — The Republican battle for an open U.S. Senate seat in Iowa next year picked up steam Monday as former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker formally announced his plans to run.
Speaking at a press conference here, Whitaker said he would seek the seat being vacated by retiring five-term Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat. Whitaker said he wants to reduce government spending and “restore our country to greatness.”
“We have a government that spies on our people, steals from our future and taxes beyond what is appropriate and necessary,” Whitaker said. “That federal government is threatening to grow even larger. Someone has to do something. And that is why I'm here today taking a stand.”
Whitaker and a few others entered the 2014 race after several high-profile Republicans decided not to seek the first open Senate seat in Iowa in 30 years. Rep. Tom Latham, Rep. Steve King and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds all decided not to run, leaving the field open for lesser-known Republican candidates.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo is his party's only candidate. He declared his candidacy in February and has been raising money and preparing since.
Whitaker, 43, a former University of Iowa football player from Clive, was U.S. attorney for Iowa's Southern District from 2004 to 2009. He ran for state treasurer in 2002.
Another new candidate to the race is Republican David Young, who most recently was U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley's top aide. Young announced his candidacy Saturday in Van Meter. He too said he will focus on reining in government spending.
“Spending is really what I want to go after. That affects Iowans' families and businesses,” said Young, 45, who lives in Van Meter.
Young said he had learned how to be an effective senator during his seven years with Grassley. He said he resigned his position in Grassley's office and has not asked Grassley for an endorsement, though he hopes the veteran senator will be supportive.
Ames attorney Paul Lunde also is seeking the GOP nomination. Other Republicans considering running include State Sen. Joni Ernst and former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs.