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Whitaker, a former football star at the University of Iowa, said he'd seek to emulate Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan Overnight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement MORE (R-Ky.) and Ted CruzTed CruzEx-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis Cruz: GOP will 'look like fools' if ObamaCare isn’t repealed The GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million MORE (R-Texas) if elected and could draw some strong support from Tea Party and libertarian voters in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 BraleyTen years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship MORE (D-Iowa) for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE's (D-Iowa) retirement.

Other potential GOP candidates include Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) and Sen. Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyFeinstein: Trump Jr. will be subpoenaed if he refuses to testify The next battle in the fight against human trafficking The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE's (R-Iowa) chief of staff, David Young.