(CNN) – Add a new name to what's shaping up to be one of the most crucial U.S. Senate showdowns next year.
Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday that she's considering a bid for the seat of longtime Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who late last month announced that he wouldn't run in 2014 for a sixth term in office.
On a conference call from the Philippines, where Reynolds is leading a trade mission, the first term Republican lieutenant governor said she "will take a serious look at it."
Her comments come one day after her boss, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, urged Reynolds to run. The Republican governor's communications director, Tim Albrecht, tells CNN that Reynolds returns from her overseas mission late Saturday night and "will begin her discussions regarding a run next week."
Earlier Wednesday Rep. Tom Latham, one of two Iowa congressmen who had been considering a 2014 Senate bid, announced he was staying put in the House. Branstad had previously urged Latham to run.
The other congressman seriously considering a Senate bid is Rep. Steve King, a conservative known for his vocal attacks on President Barack Obama. King has been criticized by some establishment Republicans as being too controversial and outspoken to win a statewide general election.
Following Latham's announcement, King said in a statement that he is continuing his decision making process, adding that "it is too big a decision to be rushed."
Albrecht tells CNN that Reynolds intends to speak with King as part of her decision making process, adding that "she has been friends with Steve King for a long time, and would not enter a primary with him."
Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley announced earlier this month that he would run for the seat. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former two term Iowa governor, recently said he will not seek the office. His name was floated as a potential Democratic candidate. Vilsack's wife Christine, however, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate. Last year she lost to King in a well-publicized House race.
The race for Harkin's open seat will most likely be one of the most heavily contested contests in 2014, as the Democrats try to hold onto their majority in the Senate. The party currently has a 55 – 45 seat advantage over the GOP in the chamber (including two independents who caucus with them). But the Democrats will be defending 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs in November 2014.
The other senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, is a Republican.