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Whitaker, a former football star at the University of Iowa, said he'd seek to emulate Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senator asks to be taken off Moore fundraising appeals Red state lawmakers find blue state piggy bank Prosecutors tell Paul to expect federal charges against attacker: report MORE (R-Ky.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky MORE (R-Texas) if elected and could draw some strong support from Tea Party and libertarian voters in the primary. But those views could be tough to sell statewide in the swing state.

A number of Republicans, including the state's governor, lieutenant governor, both Republican House members and the state's agriculture secretary have previously ruled out a challenge to Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyOPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer MORE (D-Iowa) for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinThe Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds MORE's (D-Iowa) retirement.

Other potential GOP candidates include Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks, background checks Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE's (R-Iowa) chief of staff, David Young.