Senator Tom Harkin does not expect former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack to challenge Congressman Leonard Boswell in a Democratic Primary next year.  

“I don’t see that happening,” Harkin says.

Vilsack has been mulling a bid for congress and both she and Boswell live in Des Moines.  Boswell says he told Vilsack in early January that he intends to seek reelection in 2012.  Harkin, the state’s senior Democrat, does not envision a primary battle between the two.

“Look, I have great respect for Christie Vilsack. I’ve known here a long time,” Harkin says.  “Since I’m so heaviy into education, here’s someone who has been in education all her life, so I have a lot of respect for her and her abilities. She has a lot of talent and a lot of support in the state of Iowa, but I do not see a primary with her and Congressman Boswell.”

Harkin is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee which drafts federal education policy. 

Christie Vilsack has never sought elected office before. Vilsack taught language arts and journalism to junior high and college students. She also worked as a columnist and reporter for the town’s newspaper.

Harkin made his comments Friday morning during taping of the Iowa Public TV program, “Iowa Press” which airs at 7:30 Friday and 11:30 Sunday morning.