Government

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will not run for Senate in 2020

Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture, talks to reporters after participating in a Dec. 19 panel discussion on federal budget priorities at the Iowa Taproom in Des Moines. (Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)
Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture, talks to reporters after participating in a Dec. 19 panel discussion on federal budget priorities at the Iowa Taproom in Des Moines. (Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)

DES MOINES — Tom Vilsack will not run for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat in 2020.

Vilsack, the former two-term Iowa governor and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was considered a potential Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate race against Republican first-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.

“Secretary Vilsack has been and continues to be an outstanding public servant both for the people of Iowa and our nation,” Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price said in a statement.

“He would have been a tremendous advocate for Iowa in the Senate, and we appreciate his thoughtful and deliberate consideration of making a run for this seat.”

Vilsack, now 68, was Iowa’s governor from 1999 to January 2007. He served as ag secretary throughout President Barack Obama’s two terms.

The Des Moines Register first reported the Vilsack decision Friday.

Vilsack is now the president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Dairy Council. He will be the keynote speaker at The Gazette’s Iowa Ideas conference in Cedar Rapids in October.

No candidate has officially declared for Iowa’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, other than the incumbent.

Ernst, 48, is facing re-election for the first time since her 2014 victory over former U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley. That was an open-seat race created by the retirement of longtime Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.

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