IA-03: Boswell-Vilsack primary coming in 2012?

Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack has strongly hinted to local and Washington-based journalists that she is considering a run for Congress, perhaps as early as 2012. Vilsack lives in Polk County, which will remain the population center of the redrawn third Congressional district. Meanwhile, Representative Leonard Boswell has shown no interest in stepping aside for Vilsack. He told a reporter in August,

“Christie [Vilsack] is a smart person. I’m planning on doing this for a while, so I hope that she has got other things she likes to do for a while because I’m going to continue to do this.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack did nothing to discourage the rumors when asked last week about his wife running for Congress in 2012:

Christie has extraordinary options. She is well respected and she has devoted most of her life to public service in one form or another and I think she has many options ahead of her. These are decisions that she has to make and I will support her whatever her decisions are.

Meanwhile, many central Iowa Democrats (including myself) received an invitation this week for a Boswell fundraiser on January 7 in Des Moines. Senator Tom Harkin is headlining the event, and since it’s scheduled a week into the 2012 election cycle, maxed-out donors from 2010 will be able to contribute. It’s possible that Boswell has debt to retire from his hard-fought campaign against Brad Zaun, but I agree with Civic Skinny that it looks more like a sign Boswell isn’t afraid of Vilsack in 2012.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Would Christie Vilsack run for Congress even if Boswell doesn’t retire, and if so, who would win the Democratic primary? Also share any thoughts about who would stand better chance against Republican Tom Latham. I expect Latham to run in IA-03 even if the new district doesn’t include Story County. Latham won’t want to roll the dice on a Republican primary against Steve King in the new IA-04.

P.S. Last month I pondered whether Boswell might have lost if he had faced Jim Gibbons rather than Brad Zaun. One big question mark was whether Boswell would have had enough negative material to “win ugly” against Gibbons. This week Civic Skinny published some unflattering background on Gibbons that surely would have come out if he’d been Boswell’s opponent. Excerpts are after the jump.

From the Civic Skinny column in the December 30, 2010 Cityview:

Jim Gibbons has signed on as chief deputy and director of business services in the office of Secretary-of-State-elect Matt Schultz. The former Iowa State wrestling coach brings some unusual credentials to the job.

Credential No. 1: Gibbons worked for Edward D. Jones & Co., the brokerage house, from April 23,1996, until August 6, 2004, when he resigned without notice and, according to court documents, “immediately joined a competitor,” Wachovia Securities. According to a lawsuit filed against him by Jones, Gibbons, “while still employed by Edward Jones, conspired with Wachovia to wrongfully convert Edward Jones’ records and to secretly divert Edward Jones’ customers to Wachovia,” which allegedly violated the terms of his employment contract. Neither Gibbons nor his attorney showed up for a court hearing, and on Sept. 21, 2004, the Dallas County district court found that Gibbons “has breached and continues to breach” his contract with Jones, and the court “enjoined and restrained” him from using Jones records or soliciting Jones customers. Perhaps because of a settlement, the case was dismissed two-and-a-half years later.

Credential No. 2: In 2009, the estate of Lester D. Gardiner Sr. sued Gibbons and others for negligence and breach of duty, saying that Gibbons “knew or should have known” that two aged clients of his “were not competent” to change the beneficiary on an account at Jones with $200,000 in cash and securities. The “dementia and confusion were obvious to persons having contact with them,” the suit notes. The suit was part of a family dispute. It appears to have been settled without further court action. […]

[Gibbons] showed interest in returning to Iowa State as coach in 2009, following Cael Sanderson’s widely lamented decision to quit and go to Penn State, but by then he had some detractors. Among them was former ISU wrestler Frank Santana of 7 Flags fitness in Clive. In a long and widely circulated e-mail to Gibbons (with a copy to ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard), Santana cited “five reasons we cannot support you in your quest for this position.” Among them:

“Your actions taken toward the former ISU wrestling alumni upon your first ISU coaching go-around made you a divisive and polarizing figure within the ISU wrestling family and gave clear evidence of your lack of the appropriate personal and business maturity. We see nothing in your recruiting and coaching record…which merits another consideration….”

Playing up his wrestling career in his Congressional campaign could have backfired if enemies within “the ISU wrestling family” had come out against Gibbons.  

  • Nightmare

    A Vilsack-Boswell primary would be a nightmare.  I know there are veterans issues and a whole host of other matters that Leonard cares about, but why else would he do this?  Is he personally in debt and needs the money?  I hate to even speculate in such a way.

    I would support Leonard out of loyalty to him, but there is nothing in particular that bothers me about Christie Vilsack.  Of course I don’t live in the district and don’t see how Lee County would change districts.  

  • Every single damned penny of my dog walking money...

    Goes to Christie…


    On second thought, boycott hell, I shall make every attempt to actively embargo the event with a few of my friends.

    What’s the scheduled venue?  Any takers?

  • Dino

    I would join in a Boswell boycott.  Alot of times he is a DINO.  Atleast Vilsack would fire up the democratic base.  I currently don’t live in that district.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if Dallas County doesn’t endup in that district.

    • I'm curious to see

      how his voting record changes once Republicans control the House again. The last couple of years, he has been much more likely to vote with the majority of his Democratic caucus colleagues, but when the GOP had a House majority Boswell was often among the Blue Dogs who voted with the Republicans.

      I don’t know whether Vilsack really would challenge Boswell, but I think it’s helpful for him to know he might be facing another Democratic primary–this time from someone who would have a lot more establishment support than Ed Fallon.

      • I personally hope he moves to the right

        I know I’m the only one who feels that way, but if the Democratic agenda was so wildly popular over the last two years we wouldn’t have lost so many seats.  

  • Criswell predict

    I predict Christie won’t be the only challenger in a Demo primary in a reconstituted Iowa 3. There are some stealth plans being laid right now by at least one very credible candidate who doesn’t care if CV runs or not. There is a lot of frustration over Leonard and his refusal to step aside.   And if Latham runs, he will be toast in a general.  Polk County won’t vote for him. He hasn’t done squat in Congress, just a place filler….I doubt he will run in Polk County…

    • I think a lot depends

      on whether Dallas County is part of the new IA-03 or the new IA-04. Latham’s chances are obviously much better if Dallas is in his new district.

      If I were Latham I would take my chances and run in IA-03 rather than try to beat King in an IA-04 primary.

    • Crowded primary

      Normally, a crowded primary favors the incumbent, but it might be different this time.  The presence of multiple challengers legitimizes criticism of Boswell, and it might allow CV to stay above the fray, while others go negative on him.  

      I don’t know the district, but it doesn’t feel like Boswell has a big group of die hard supporters.  A fragmented field might hurt him more than CV.

      • I don't know who

        would be the diehard Boswell supporters in a primary scenario. My sense is that even a lot of Democrats who like him recognize that long-term, we need someone new to represent us here. He’s had a good career, and it’s time for him to retire.  

      • Intervention

        If there was a crowded primary, or a primary that looked to be particularly vicious (say, Vilsack/Boswell), would the Obama administration or the party intervene behind the scenes?  

  • I see

    Thank you for the clarification Elton.  

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