Santorum backs ally in Iowa House race

Greg Nash

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is endorsing Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) in his bid for Rep. Tom Latham's seat.

Schultz and Santorum are close: Schultz was the only statewide elected official in Iowa to back Santorum's presidential campaign in 2012, and they spent months campaigning side-by-side throughout the state.

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Santorum touts those personal ties in his endorsement, which could help boost Schultz in a crowded primary field.

"I first met Matt Schultz in early 2010 when I visited Council Bluffs, Iowa for a luncheon to support the Pottawattamie County Republican Party. After lunch, Matt and I visited one-on-one, getting to know more about each other and talking about our mutually shared vision for our nation.  From that day forward, it was clear to me that Matt was a strong leader, great family man, and a leading face in a new generation of conservatives ready to return our nation to a path of prosperity," he said in a statement.

Schultz could face a crowded primary field in the swing district. Former Hill staffer David Young (R) and Iowa state Sen. Brad Zaun (R) are already in the race, and a number of other Republicans are considering bids as well.

Democrats have coalesced around former Iowa state Sen. Staci Appel (D), and are hopeful they can win the toss-up district now that Latham is retiring.

Santorum said he looks forward "to joining Matt on the campaign trail soon."