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September 21, 2014

Iowa: Vilsack Would Be Potent Senate Candidate, Poll Finds

Not so fast, Rep. Bruce Braley. There’s another Iowa Democrat with plenty of goodwill awaiting him if he runs for Senate: former Gov. Tom Vilsack.

That’s according to a new poll of 802 Iowa adults conducted by Ann Selzer on behalf of the Des Moines Register. It was fielded Feb. 3-6 and released Friday — one day after Braley announced he would seek the seat.

With Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin retiring, poll respondents were read a list of possible candidates and asked whether each would be appealing. Fifty-six percent said Vilsack would be an appealing candidate, and 36 percent said the same of Braley, who represents a northeastern Iowa district. Rep. Tom Latham received the best score among the Republicans, with 40 percent viewing him as an appealing candidate.

Vilsack has not given an indication that he plans to run, but Selzer told the Register, “This is the kind of poll finding that launches campaigns.” But it’s also worth noting that early polling like this often reflects name identification.

The other names included were former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year, with a 42 percent appeal rating; former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver with 39 percent; Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Rep. Steve King, both Republicans, with 33 percent; and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats with 21 percent.

A Christie Vilsack aide told the newspaper she does not plan to run for Senate “because she is looking into another exciting opportunity.”

The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

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