Senator Harkin Called ‘Prairie Populist’
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s announcement Saturday that he will not seek re-election in 2014 marks the beginning of the end of a political career that has closely tracked Iowa’s surge to prominence on the national political landscape.
Harkin, 73 and a Democrat, is serving his fifth term in the Senate, and previously served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
His exit from Iowa’s political scene will close a 30-year era in which the state’s political leadership has been remarkably stable and notably prominent on the national stage. Serving next to Harkin from his first day in the Senate has been Republican Chuck Grassley, first elected in 1980. (For eighteen of those 30 years, too, Republican Terry Branstad has been Iowa’s governor.)
As of this year, Harkin and Grassley are the longest-serving active pair of senators from any state. Harkin is the most senior junior senator in the body.