Tom Vilsack's wife mulling run for Congress in Iowa

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 20, 2011 1:57 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Christie Vilsack, the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, said on Wednesday she is preparing a run for the Iowa congressional seat of Republican and Tea Party favorite Steve King.

A Democrat, she announced she had formed an "exploratory committee" for the 2012 race for U.S. Representative, and would embark on a listening tour of the fourth district.

The couple is moving to Ames, Iowa, to live inside the newly defined district's boundaries.

"I'm exploring a candidacy," Christie Vilsack, said in an interview. "It's not a decision I take lightly."

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad on Tuesday approved a redistricting that reduced Iowa's number of U.S. Representatives to four from five, prompting a scramble not unlike musical chairs among some incumbents.

Extending from central Iowa to the state's northwest corner, the fourth district has more registered Republicans than Democrats and Branstad predicted Vilsack would be a "fish out of water."

But she said the district's many small towns fit her style. She previously weighed a run against veteran Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Democrat Tom Vilsack was formerly a two-term governor of the state first elected in 1998. He briefly ran for president in 2008.

Vilsack commented recently that a campaign against King would be "a holy war." Christie Vilsack dismissed the comment, saying her husband had to become accustomed to the supportive role of candidate's spouse.

She said she will take a month or two to listen to voters, and wants to hear ideas about how to rebuild the economy and promote job growth.

(Reporting by Kay Henderson; Writing by Andrew Stern)