Tom Vilsack won’t run for Senate

February 15, 2013
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack won't run for Senate. (Reuters)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack won't run for Senate. (Reuters)

Former Iowa governor and current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will not run for Senate in 2014, an aide told reporters Friday.

“He will not seek the open seat,” Vilsack aide Matt Paul told The Des Moines Register. Sen. Tom Harkin (D) is retiring. Vilsack's decision means that Rep. Bruce Braley, who has already announced his bid, is the likely to be the Democratic nominee. 

Vilsack had not expressed interest in the race publicly. Vilsack has announced that he will stay in President Obama's Cabinet for a second term. But a recent Des Moines Register poll found that 56 percent of Iowans considered him an appealing candidate. Only 36 percent said the same of Braley.

“This is the kind of poll finding that launches campaigns,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said at the time. Not in this case. There are still rumors that Vilsack will challenge Gov. Terry Branstad (R) in 2014.

Iowa hasn't had an open Senate seat since 1974, and Republicans have a chance of taking this swing state. But first they have to deal with Rep. Steve King (R), a likely candidate with a strong conservative base but limited statewide reach.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Sean Sullivan · February 15, 2013