IA-Gov: Tom Vilsack thinking about a comeback?

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack may be thinking about running for Iowa governor again in 2014, according to one of his longtime friends.

UPDATE: Vilsack stopped by the Iowa capitol on February 19 to meet with statehouse Democrats. According to State Representative Marti Anderson, he came to “talk about the looming sequester in DC. and other Food, Farm, and Jobs issues from USDA.”

Iowa Democratic power-broker Jerry Crawford was a guest on WHO-TV’s The Insiders this Sunday. Based on a conversation with Vilsack over lunch last week, Crawford wasn’t surprised when Vilsack took himself out of the possible field for Tom Harkin’s U.S. Senate seat. But Crawford added,

He was very quiet on the subject of the governor’s race, and I think that that’s still an open question.

I’m skeptical that Vilsack would leave a cabinet post he seems to enjoy in order to take on Governor Terry Branstad. But with nearly-universal name recognition and strong appeal to Iowans, the former two-term governor would probably have a better chance to beat Branstad than any other Democrat.

Implementing a new, comprehensive Farm Bill is major unfinished business for Vilsack at the USDA. Then again, waiting around for Congress to pass a multi-year farm bill could be a losing game. The country may end up lurching from one temporary extension of farm programs to another as long as Congress is under divided control. It’s been nearly 50 years since someone served as U.S. agriculture secretary for two full four-year terms.

Crawford also told WHO-TV’s Dave Price that Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal “has made it very clear to me that he’s gonna actively look at the governor’s race once the legislative session is over.” Having just been re-elected last November to represent Senate district 8 for another four years, Gronstal could run for governor without giving up his Senate seat. Some of the other possible Democratic candidates, like State Senators Rob Hogg and Jack Hatch, are up for re-election next year, so would have to give up their Iowa Senate seats in order to take on Branstad.

Senate President Pam Jochum has also said she’s considering running for governor. Like Gronstal, she’s not up for re-election to the Iowa Senate until 2016.

Any speculation about the Iowa governor’s race is welcome in this thread.

  • Vilsack

    I don’t see where the upside in running against Branstad would be for Vilsack.  I certainly see a path to victory for the U.S. Senate in 2014. but that rumor needs to end.

    2016…Is Vilsack too old to run at what 66-67 for Grassley’s seat?  Hard to say, the Senate is getting younger with every passing day…not much younger though.  

    I don’t see Hatch and Gronstal running against each other, they’d be tripping over each to take credit for a lot of the same things.  It would be too inside baseball for the common (even primary) voter to figure out who was telling the truth.  

    • I don't think Vilsack would be too old

      to run for Grassley’s seat if Grassley retires. I have no idea whether he’d want to do that.

      Agree with you, I don’t think multiple Iowa Senate Democrats are going to run against each other for governor.

  • I would love to see Pam Jochum as Governor.

    • no kidding

      But it’s going to be a huge long-shot for anyone against Branstad in my opinion. That’s why I wanted to see her run in the first Congressional district. It’s a seat a good Democrat like her should win.

  • Vilsack

    The only thing that might make him run is an appeal from Iowa Democrats that he is the only candidate with a reasonable chance of beating TB, and his state and his party need him to do it.  TB is taking this state down the tubes on any number of fronts.  Who could make such an appeal?  Bill Knapp? (they dont like each other) M Gartner? (probably would not make the call) The Hubbells? (Maybe, but possibly not enough juice)  Perhaps a coalition of folks coming forward.  Just spitballing here.  What a race that would be !

  • Gronstal

    I heard a rumor that may have just been pure speculation or wishful thinking, that if Latham runs for the Senate then Gronstal may run for congress in the 3rd.

    • that seems odd

      He’s got way more influence as Iowa Senate majority leader than he would as a low-seniority member of the House Democrats (minority caucus). If he won the Congressional seat, there would have to be a special election in Council Bluffs, where Democrats don’t have a deep bench locally.  

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