Rep. Braley launches bid for Iowa Senate seat

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) will run for the Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), he announced in an email to supporters Thursday morning.

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"It's a big responsibility to represent the people of Iowa in the United States Senate, especially after Tom Harkin has shown us how for the last 30 years. But, if you are willing to help me, I'm ready to go," he writes in the email.

Braley has been expected to run for the seat. He recently met with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to discuss the race, and had been rumored to be interested in a statewide run for years.

Braley promised to "get things done for Iowa's middle class" in the email.

"It's time to start a conversation with Iowans – about rebuilding the middle class, creating economic opportunity for everyone, and keeping America strong," he said.

Braley, a four-term congressman from the eastern part of the state, has proven to be a tough campaigner. He narrowly held on to his slightly Democratic-leaning district during the 2010 GOP wave despite being a top target, and won by a wide margin in 2012 against a strong challenger.

No Republicans have announced bids for the seat yet, though both Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Tom Latham (R-Iowa) are considering running. Polls show that Braley would start off with a big lead over King, a firebrand conservative, while Latham would make it a close race in the swing state.