Vilsack out of IA Senate race

posted at 1:21 pm on February 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The Des Moines Register drops a rather significant surprise on Iowa Democrats looking forward to 2014.  Former Governor Tom Vilsack will not seek the Democratic nomination for the US Senate seat held by retiring incumbent Tom Harkin:

Tom Vilsack has ruled out running U.S. Senate in 2014, clearing the way for the early Democratic frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, to press forward and raise money for what’s expected to be one of the most fiercely competitive races in the country.

“He will not seek the open seat,” Matt Paul, a longtime Vilsack aide, told The Des Moines Register this morning.

The DMR had just published a poll showing Vilsack with a substantial amount of support for the nomination.  In fact, their Iowa poll numbers were so good that the pollster remarked that they would usually launch a campaign, not discourage one:

The Register’s most recent Iowa Poll stirred up buzz about a possible Senate bid by Vilsack, a former Iowa governor who is now a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet. The poll shows 56 percent of Iowans say Vilsack would be an appealing Senate candidate, while 35 percent say he wouldn’t be.

“This is the kind of poll finding that launches campaigns,” said J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the poll of 802 Iowa adults Feb. 3-6.

One advantage Vilsack has is that he has significant name recognition.  He won two state-wide races for Governor in 1998 and 2002, and has served as Barack Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture since the beginning of the Obama administration  — a very high-profile Cabinet position in farm country.  The poll shows, too, that his appeal goes beyond just simple name recognition:

One striking poll number: The percentage of Iowans who like Vilsack as a Senate candidate exceeds those who don’t by 21 points. That’s evidence his approval runs deeper than just simple name recognition, Selzer said.

The DMR refers to Braley as “the front runner” on the Democratic side, but that’s a bit … charitable.  Only 36% of respondents to the Iowa Poll called Braley “appealing,” a full twenty points below Vilsack, and four points below his Republican House colleague Tom Latham.  Democrats will have a tough time in the midterms, and need a candidate of real political clout.

So why isn’t Vilsack interested in protecting this Democratic seat?  His spokesperson claims that Vilsack wants to remain at Agriculture, and that’s certainly possible, but at the expense of joining The Club?  Perhaps Vilsack doesn’t believe that Democrats will be able to defend it after two years of Obama’s second-term agenda … and he may well be right.

Addendum: The NRSC seems pleased to see Vilsack depart, too.  Here’s their official statement:

“The DSCC tried and failed to prevent Senator Harkin’s hand chosen candidate, Rep. Bruce Braley, from a clear path to the nomination because they know his brand of liberalism is too far outside the mainstream for most Iowans.  Now Democrats are stuck a slick former head of the trial lawyers association and one of the most partisan members of Congress as their candidate, Bruce Braley.”


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Vilsack probably felt he couldn’t fill the big shoes of the Vietnam combat veteran Harkin.

Bishop on February 15, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Maybe he can get his wife to do it.

steebo77 on February 15, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Doesn’t matter who Dems run. Steve King will find a way to blow it.

Mark1971 on February 15, 2013 at 1:27 PM

He’s decided that flying in private jets and banging underage foreign prostitutes is not that exciting.

acyl72 on February 15, 2013 at 1:29 PM

So why isn’t Vilsack interested in protecting this Democratic seat? His spokesperson claims that Vilsack wants to remain at Agriculture, and that’s certainly possible, but at the expense of joining The Club? Perhaps Vilsack doesn’t believe that Democrats will be able to defend it after two years of Obama’s second-term agenda … and he may well be right.

Conversely, it could be that Vilsack wants to join The Club but there is something looming out there that would become a huge scandal for candidate Vilsack. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Happy Nomad on February 15, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Vilsack probably felt he couldn’t fill the big shoes of the Vietnam combat veteran Harkin.

Bishop on February 15, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Could you explain your joke to people more ignorant of Harkin than you?

thuja on February 15, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Vilsack, a former Iowa governor who is now a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet. The poll shows 56 percent of Iowans say Vilsack would be an appealing Senate candidate

…they poll cows?…pigs?

KOOLAID2 on February 15, 2013 at 1:32 PM

IA Pug campaign slogan: Ethanol enemas for everyone!

Mr. Arrogant on February 15, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Vilsack probably felt he couldn’t fill the big shoes of the Vietnam combat veteran Harkin.

Bishop on February 15, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Not saying Vilsack doesn’t stand in awe of combat-tested Navy fighter pilots like Harkin but I’d like to point out that clowns have big shoes too.

Happy Nomad on February 15, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Oh gawd, the GOP is set up to blow another one.

Tater Salad on February 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Could you explain your joke to people more ignorant of Harkin than you?

thuja on February 15, 2013 at 1:31 PM

What’s to explain? Harkin is a fraud. He represented himself as a Navy pilot who spent a year flying combat missions over Vietnam. It was all a lie. Yes, he was a Navy pilot, but he was stationed in Japan.

Happy Nomad on February 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM

This is the guy that got to dole out Obama’s Pigford II money. He should be in jail for that.

DanMan on February 15, 2013 at 1:39 PM

…they poll cows?…pigs?

KOOLAID2 on February 15, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Worse, they poll Iowans. A bunch of people with an over-iflated ego and importance in politics due to the fact that aspiring candidates pay attention to them for a few months every four years.

Happy Nomad on February 15, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Probably needs more time to recoup from Dry Mouth Syndrome.

hillsoftx on February 15, 2013 at 1:41 PM

He heard skeletons rattling in the closet…

Ace ODale on February 15, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Corn prone.

portlandon on February 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

What’s to explain? Harkin is a fraud. He represented himself as a Navy pilot who spent a year flying combat missions over Vietnam. It was all a lie. Yes, he was a Navy pilot, but he was stationed in Japan.

Happy Nomad on February 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM

I suspected it was something like that.

I am beginning to suspect that not understanding supply and demand in economics and pathological lying are intimately related conditions.

thuja on February 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

I am beginning to suspect that not understanding supply and demand in economics and pathological lying are intimately related conditions.

thuja on February 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Well, you can’t be an economist without being a pathological liar. It’s part of the job description. The trick is to tell the lies with great certitude and enough caveats to be able and spin the lie if things don’t go as predicted.

Happy Nomad on February 15, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Karl Rove’s first victim and you guyz were all down on him…..

JFKY on February 15, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Iowa………strong on the teat this one is.

PappyD61 on February 15, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Vilsack either has a new skeleton in his closet or he is passing as a favor to someone. No one in his advantageous position to win a Senate seat, passes. I have to think there is a big unknown in this story that we will never be privy to….

Come on, Obama won Iowa twice and Vilsack is in his cabinet. He would have virtual walk down easy street to the Senate. Something is stopping him.

It doesnt matter anyhow….the GOP will blow it and give Democrats the seat for another 25 years.

alecj on February 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Is there time for Akin to move to IA?…

I keed, I keed.

Fallon on February 15, 2013 at 2:31 PM

OT ~ Anybody missing a president? Apparently, he just landed in Chitown.

“This is the moment when the rise of the oceans begins to slow, our planet begins to heal and gang violence ceases.”

Fallon on February 15, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Vilsack is a turd sandwich, but Braley is a giant douche. I get Braley’s emails all the time and they are just perfect Democrat: say one thing to your constituents then go do another.

Free Indeed on February 15, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Is there time for Akin to move to IA?…

I keed, I keed.

Fallon on February 15, 2013 at 2:31 PM

LOL

bluefox on February 15, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Oh gawd, the GOP is set up to blow another one.

Tater Salad on February 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Premature diaper wetting never accomplishes very much.

steebo77 on February 15, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Karl Rove’s first victim and you guyz were all down on him…..

JFKY on February 15, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Oh, well. Rove can support Braley now. Steve King must not be Conservative enough for Rove. After all, Rove is all for the Conservatives, doncha know?

bluefox on February 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Word on the street is that he got caught with an unregistered bottle of Poland Spring.

No way he was ever going to come back from that if it got out.

Lily on February 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Doesn’t matter who Dems run. Steve King will find a way to blow it.

Mark1971

Karl Rove will make sure of it.

xblade on February 15, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Till 2014 the farm belt will be tired of O’s anti-farmer programs and with Vilsack as candidate its a no win for him.

aknews on February 15, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Lily on February 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

His only hope is switching to fracking fluid.. LOL

bluefox on February 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM

It is not the GOP that messes things up-

it is a lot of GOP primary voters like some of you on HotGas that mess things up for us. Just like the social cons will nominate a hard right ideologue in Steve King, who will be berated by the media, the establishment, and will lose by 6%.

How about social cons trying nominating a DECENT CANDIDATE like Cruz, Rubio or Jindal?!!

Or need I remind you of Senator Sharon Angle, Senator Ken Buck, Senator Christine O’Donnell, Senator Todd Akin, Senator Richard Mourdock?!!

that would give us the control of the Senate RIGHT THERE if the social cons wouldn’t have put forth idiots and weirdos..

AirForceCane on February 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM

that would give us the control of the Senate RIGHT THERE if the social cons wouldn’t have put forth idiots and weirdos..

how about you fiscal cons doing something…your little rant makes it our fault, WE nominate…hey how about YOU nominate someone who can win a PRIMARY, OK?

Even better, how about this, be Pro-Life AND low taxes, rather than Mr. “Tolerant”?

J3sus what a passive-aggressive rant that was…not YUR fault, someone lese’s fault and THEY need to change?!? How about YOU produce a viable candidate, for a freak’n change?

JFKY on February 15, 2013 at 3:14 PM

JFKY on February 15, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Damn well said!

Or need I remind you of Senator Sharon Angle, Senator Ken Buck, Senator Christine O’Donnell, Senator Todd Akin, Senator Richard Mourdock?!!

AirForceCane on February 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM

And AirForceCane, where are Senators Berg, Thompson, Brown, McMahon, Mack, Summers, Wilson, or Lingle?

Stoic Patriot on February 15, 2013 at 3:32 PM

And AirForceCane, where are Senators Berg, Thompson, Brown, McMahon, Mack, Summers, Wilson, or Lingle?

Stoic Patriot on February 15, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Were those the Conservatives that can win? The Rove winners? LOL

bluefox on February 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM

AirForceCane on February 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM

The biggest problem that I see in any of those elections just stated is that U.S. House & Senate, Rove and other PACS etc create by getting involved in State races. They need to tend to their own business and see if they can repair the mess they have in the current Congress.

bluefox on February 15, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Just to cover all bases, it could be something else that he has advance knowledge of.

1) Given the perfected Democrat art form of vote fraud, right now if you are not given the nod ahead of time by those controlling matters in the party inner circles; the odds of winning are rather slim. It may be that he was advised that he is not the chosen one, and it is not worth the effort [which is considerable] to bother to campaign.

2) Given the gathering of all power into the Executive’s hands, it may be that he knows something about a coming event that will make elections moot.

3) Or it may be that the role of the Senate will be changed by some future event, making it not worth the effort.

Given the beating that the rule of law and the Constitution have been taking for the last few years; the range of possibilities has expanded. The set of events for which one can accurately say, “It can’t happen here.” is getting smaller and smaller.

Subotai Bahadur

Subotai Bahadur on February 15, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Subotai Bahadur on February 15, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Certainly possible and something to consider. A lot has changed since 2008, that’s for sure.

bluefox on February 15, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Vilsack is keeping his powder dry. Yes, h’s eyeing running for the United States Senate, but my bet is that he is going to challenge Chuck Grassley, and in a election cycle less likely to be harmful to Democrats.

Jurisprudence on February 15, 2013 at 5:04 PM