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Proclaiming he's “ready to go,” U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is telling supporters Thursday that he's forming a campaign committee to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2014 by Sen. Tom Harkin.
Braley is sending the news in an email Thursday, saying it's a “big responsibility” to try to fill Harkin's shoes.
“But if you are willing to help me, I'm ready to go,” he said in the email, which was obtained by the Quad-City Times.
The announcement comes about two weeks after Harkin shocked Iowans by announcing he wouldn't run for re-election in 2014. Since then, Braley, who has long been rumored to be interested in the Senate, has been exploring a potential bid.
Jeff Link, a senior adviser, said Thursday Braley will begin raising money immediately and he will be reaching out to Iowans to talk about veterans and small business issues and middle-class tax cuts. A more formal announcement will come “down the road,” Link said.
In the email, Braley said he would kick off a series of conversations with a Facebook chat in the next few weeks. Link said the conversations would extend for several months.
While Braley is considered by many to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, it's possible others could run in a primary. If that happens, Link made it clear Braley will be ready for any challenge.
“We're going to be in the best position when the filing deadline hits,” he said.
Braley has been a proficient fundraiser since kicking off his first bid for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2005. He's won four races in eastern Iowa since then, with only one, in 2010, a close call.
Now, he faces the challenge of introducing himself to other parts of the state, including a heavily Republican western Iowa.
Link said Braley has been encouraged in particular by two events in the days since Harkin made his announcement: His meeting with Statehouse Democrats in Des Moines and a big labor union event over the weekend in Dubuque, where he appeared with Harkin.
Harkin did not endorse Braley - and he has said that he wouldn't get involved in a primary - but he generously praised the Waterloo Democrat.
Braley also has met with the political arm of the Senate Democrats.
On the Republican side, Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King have both sent signals they could run.
Latham, who has said he is considering a bid, changed the name of his campaign committee this week from Latham for Congress to Iowans for Latham. And while the congressman said not to read too much into the name change, some are taking it as a signal that he could run.