Iowa Democrats are honoring former Governor Tom Vilsack this weekend.
The Iowa Democratic Party’s 10th “Hall of Fame” dinner will honor Tom Vilsack, his wife and former First Lady Christie Vilsack and Sally Pederson, Vilsack’s Lieutenant Governor.
Vilsack’s first won elected office in 1986, as mayor of southeast Iowa community of Mount Pleasant. Next, Vilsack served as the area’s state senator for five years. In 1998, Vilsack was elected governor.
Then, on November 30, 2006 — after two terms as governor — Vilsack launched his own bid for the White House. Vilsack ended his campaign on February 23, 2007. About a month later, Vilsack endorsed Hillary Clinton. When Clinton left the race, Vilsack became one of Barack Obama’s staunchest public defenders.
This past December, Obama picked Vilsack to serve as ag secretary. Vilsack spoke by phone with Radio Iowa earlier this month.
“This is a great job,” Vilsack said. “We refer to it as the ‘Every Day Every Way At the U.S.D.A.’ department because we virtually have the opportunity to touch every American’s life in so many different ways, not just the food that we consume two or three times every day, but there are trade issues. We are involved in housing. We’re involved in business and industry development, in energy policy and helping build community facilities like health care facilities, dentists’ offices, fire stations, city halls. And we’re invoved in wastewater treatment operations, providing emergency funding to folks who are in trouble in disasters. I mean, it is very similar in many, many respects to the job I had as governor.”
Vilsack was in Iowa earlier this month, visiting Cedar Rapids and Columbus Junction to mark the one-year anniversary of the Flood of 2008. He does a good bit of traveling as ag secretary and in the past two months held five forums in rural areas of the country, part of a rural “listening tour.”
“As I traveled around the country during the election last year, I was concerned about the mood of the country,” Vilsack said. “I think the mood has changed and people are anxious to get this country moving back on the right track.”
The Saturday night event honoring Vilsack, his wife and his lieutenant governor will be held on the Drake University campus where Vilsack served as a part-time law professor after he left the governorship.
Click on the audio link below to listen to a brief audio tour of Vilsack’s political career.