Governor Tom Vilsack’s been included on the list of potential running mates for apparent democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. If a Kerry/Vilsack ticket were to come together, and win in November, that means a person who was virtually unknown to Iowans in 1998 would become the state’s Governor. Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson was once a senior food editor for Meredith publications, but Tom Vilsack picked her as his running mate in 1998 because of her work with charities and non-profit groups. Pederson, who is 54 years old, says she’s ready to take over the top spot in state government if Vilsack were to leave. Pederson says “one of the really positive things about the partnership” she has with Governor Vilsack is that she and he have “taken seriously” her responsibility to be prepared to step into the governor’s shoes.Pederson says she’s prepared, “whatever happens.” Pederson says the public has seen her as “being a partner in government.” Pederson often stands at Vilsack’s side during news conferences and other public events, and sometimes but very rarely she speaks for the Administration on policy issues.Pederson says anyone inside state government knows she’s involved in the operation of state government. Many statehouse insiders say that’s true. Those who raised questions about her readiness to be governor were unwilling to say so on the record. State Representative Dolores Mertz, a democrat from Ottosen, went on the record, to speak on Pederson’s behalf. Mertz says she thinks Pederson is ready to be governor, but Mertz isn’t sure the state of Iowa is ready for a woman as state government’s chief executive. She says Iowa will eventually have a woman serve as governor, whether it be Pederson or someone else.Mertz says “a woman does her homework…and is probably more diligent in what she does and how she prepares herself.” Mertz says she’s “not bashing men by any means” but “a lot of good and intelligent decisions are being made by more and more women everyday.” Pederson, though, is reluctant to talk about the idea of becoming the state’s first woman governor. Pederson says she “really wouldn’t be operating from some sort of gender position” if she were governor. Pederson says she’d be operating, first and foremost, as an Iowan committed to providing opportunity for young people, taking care of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens and moving the state forward in terms of economic development. Representative Jo Oldson, a democrat from Des Moines, used to work in the Vilsack administration and sometimes worked with the Lieutenant Governor, so Oldson’s seen Pederson in action both in public and in private. Oldson says Pederson’s “ready for prime time” as Olden says the Lieutenant Governor has “matured a lot” in the past six years on the job. Oldson says Pederson’s “much more sure of her role in government and much more sure of herself, publicly.” Pederson herself is trying to downplay the speculation about her possible ascension to the governorship. Pederson says Vilsack would have to be selected as Kerry’s running mate, and then they’d have to win before such a thing would occur, so it’s not something she’s paying much attention to. Pederson says “there are a lot of things that deserve our focus between now and then and have much higher priority than this.” Pederson is among the democrats who are said to be considering running for governor in 2006, as Vilsack says he won’t seek reelection. Almost a month ago, Pederson was asked whether she’d run for governor then, and Pederson said her attention was on the 2004 campaign.
You are here: / / Pederson would move up if VP talk for Governor comes true