DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Rep. Tom Latham announced Tuesday he won't seek re-election in 2014, creating a potentially competitive race for a seat that likely would have favored the 10-term Iowa Republican.
The 65-year-old Republican from Clive will have spent 20 years in Congress and is Iowa's senior U.S. House member. The decision creates an open seat that includes the Des Moines area in central Iowa and the vast rural tracts of southern and western Iowa.
The news, coming late Tuesday, took Iowa's GOP senior strategists by surprise.
"It's a bombshell politically in Iowa because he was so strong," said Doug Gross, a longtime aide to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and former nominee for governor. "It throws open a congressional seat in a very, very important district I think you'll have a scrum on both sides. I think you'll have lots of interest."
Democrat Staci Appel, a former state senator from Ackworth, had already announced her plans to seek the seat before Latham's decision.
Latham was heavily courted this year by Iowa Republicans, especially Branstad, and the national GOP to seek Iowa's open Senate seat in 2014, but he turned that down in February. Five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced in January that he would retire, and several Republicans have announced their candidacies.
Latham is a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the transportation subcommittee. He's known for his friendship with House Speaker John Boehner and his love of golf.