Did Rep. Steve King pass up a bid for the U.S. Senate because he was too damaged by last year’s campaign?
That’s apparently what U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack thinks.
The former Iowa governor spoke with the World-Herald this week about his ideas for the farm bill’s conservation title – story here.
But we also asked the former Iowa governor what he made of the hesitation by several top Republicans to run for his home state’s open Senate seat.
Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, already is raising money and campaigning to replace Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who is not seeking re-election.
But across the aisle, many top contenders have taken a pass on the race.
The latest to say he’s not running is Rep. Steve King, the outspoken conservative Republican from northwest Iowa.
“I know why Congressman King didn’t run,” Vilsack told the World-Herald. “Because I think he was defined in the last congressional race and I think that made it very difficult for him to be a strong statewide candidate.”
King’s Democratic challenger in last year’s election was the secretary’s wife, Christie Vilsack.
It was one of the more expensive house races in the country, with millions pouring in from outside groups.
Still, King won re-election by defeating the state’s former first lady by 8 percentage points.
Vilsack said that even with King and other potential Republican candidates opting out of a bid, he has no doubt Braley will have to work hard to win the seat.
“I’m sure that someone will come to the fore and there will be a strong candidate and, as Iowa always is, it’ll be a very competitive race,” Vilsack said.