Aide confirms Tom Vilsack won't seek Harkin's Senate seat in 2014

Former governor won't rule out a future run for elective office

Mike Wiser
Published: February 15 2013 | 3:16 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:33 am in

Tom Vilsack won’t run to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin in 2014, longtime Vilsack aide Matt Paul said Friday.

But the current U.S. Agriculture secretary and former Iowa governor did not rule out a future run for elective office.

“He has said many times that you never rule anything out in this business,” Paul wrote in an e-mail. “He considered (a Senate bid) and appreciated the support and encouragement he received from Iowans. But he really enjoys serving as Secretary of Agriculture and is honored to be one of only three Iowans to serve as both the state’s governor and as a member of the Presidential Cabinet.”

Vilsack, 62, was seen as a likely frontrunner if he chose to enter the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, who announced last month that he would not seek re-election to the Senate seat he has held since 1985.

A Des Moines Register poll conducted shortly after Harkin’s retirement announcement showed that Vilsack would be the most “appealing” candidate to run for the office.

The only other potential candidates that had positive appeal ratings, according to the poll, were U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican who represents the Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat who represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

Braley is the only candidate who has formally announced his intention to run for Harkin’s seat. On Friday, Braley’s campaign announced his first two stops as a candidate for U.S. Senate: a speech at the Scott County Democrats Red, White and Blue Dinner tonight and another dinner engagement with Warren County Democrats on Monday.

Christie Vilsack, wife of Tom Vilsack who challenged U.S. Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District in 2012, doesn’t plan to pursue the Senate seat either, Paul wrote, but the couple may be players in the race nonetheless, especially if a Democratic primary shapes up.

“I expect (Tom Vilsack) and Christie will announce their individual support for a candidate at some point before the 2014 primary,” he wrote.

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