October 21, 2014

Vilsack says his wife is “well-respected,” may seek office herself

Christie Vilsack with Iowa State Fairgoers

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says his wife, Christie, is well-qualified to run for public office.

Vilsack was governor for eight years, from January of 1999 through January of 2007. This past August Christie Vilsack said she might run for congress in 2012.

“Christie has extraordinary options,” Vilsack says.  “She is well-respected.  She has devoted most of her life to public service in one form or another and I think she has many options ahead of her. These are decisions that she has to make.”

During a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program, Vilsack was asked what sort of advice he’s given his wife about running for office.

“Husband and wife conversations are confidential under Iowa law if I remember correctly,” Vilsack joked. Vilsack added that he will support his wife’s choices about her future, “whatever her decisions are.”

President Obama appointed Tom Vilsack U.S. Agriculture Secretary nearly two years ago and Vilsack is the administration’s point person on ag policy. Secretary Vilsack has also played a key role in advocating for other Obama policies, like the recent tax deal Obama struck with Republican congressional leaders. Vilsack indicated he does not intend to leave the post if his wife runs for congress.

“Secretary Chao and Senator McConnell were married during the Bush Administration, so I don’t think there’s any legal prohibition against it,” Vilsack said.

Elaine Chao served eight years as President Bush’s Secretary of Labor while her husband, Mitch McConnell, served in the U.S. senate. In addition, Elizabeth Dole served as a cabinet secretary while her husband, Bob Dole, was in the U.S. Senate. Wendy Lee Gramm served as head of the Community Futures Trading Corporation while her husband, Phil Gramm, was in congress.

Christie Vilsack said this past August that at the age of 60, she “can’t wait indefinitely” to wage her own campaign for public office.  Shortly after she made those comments, Congressman Leonard Boswell indicated he plans to seek another term in the U.S. House, setting up a potential Democratic Primary show-down between the two as both call Des Moines their home.  The Vilsacks sold their home in Mount Pleasant and moved to Des Moines after Tom Vilsack left the governor’s office.