|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.