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Harkin won't seek 6th Senate term

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Jan. 26 2013 11:06 a.m. MST

Democratic incumbents also face tough re-election races in Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina and Alaska — all states carried by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in November's presidential election.

Since the election, Harkin has stepped up his role as one of the Senate's leading liberal populists.

He was a vocal opponent late last year of President Barack Obama's concession to lift the income threshold for higher taxes to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Harkin instead supported raising taxes on all earners making more than $250,000 a year.

He also endorsed Obama's call for banning assault rifles and larger ammunition magazines in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting last month

Despite Harkin's strong political position, he has faced questions about his and his wife Ruth's role in developing a namesake policy institute at Iowa State University, Harkin's alma mater.

The Harkins and their supporters have been pushing for the institute to house papers highlighting his signature achievements, including the ADA and shaping farm policy as the former chairman of the agriculture committee.

In one long-running dispute, they've pressed ISU's president to rescind rules restricting the institute's ability to research agriculture, which Harkin derided as a violation of academic freedom. And Harkin has evaded questions about his role in fundraising for the institute after disclosure reports showed some of its largest donors are firms that have benefited from his policies.

Harkin dismissed that those questions had any bearing on his decision.

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