Vilsack a "no" for Senate, playing field crystallizes
Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack (D) told the Des Moines Register this morning that she would not pursue a challenge to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) in 2010, taking a big-name recruit off the table and likely ensuring that the Republican will win a sixth term next November.
In a statement released to the Register's Tom Beaumont, Vilsack said she was "flattered and humbled" that people had asked her to consider running but that she did not believe a candidacy represented the best way she could serve Iowa.
Vilsack, the wife of the former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture, would likely have given Grassley his toughest race in decades although it was not entirely clear that the incumbent was in real peril.
Democrats often cited the precipitous drop in Grassley's approval numbers in the Iowa poll but the GOP incumbent has proven resilient -- never winning re-election with less than 66 percent of the vote -- through all sorts of political weather.
With Iowa almost certainly off the board of competitive Senate races -- wealthy attorney Roxanne Conlin (D) is expected to run but has a long way to go to make Grassley sweat -- the playing field for 2010 is nearly set.
By the Fix's count, only four states remain up in the air as we approach the one-year-out marker until the midterms.
In North Dakota, Gov. John Hoeven (R) continues to mull the idea of challenging Sen. Byron Dorgan (D). Even those close to Hoeven say they have no idea when he will make a decision on the race; as a popular and well known governor he has a longer time frame than most candidates. Most GOP strategists are pessimistic that Hoeven will run but if he does this seat immediately becomes one of Republicans' best pickup chances.
In Delaware, Democrats expect state Attorney General Beau Biden to run for his father's old seat but Biden the younger has made no announcement yet and Rep. Mike Castle's (R) candidacy ensures that even if Beau does run, he will face a stiff test next November.
In New York, there is still some speculation that former Gov. George Pataki (R) is considering a challenge to appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D). We can't find anyone in Washington -- Republican or Democrat -- who seems to think that will happen, however.
And, in North Carolina, Democrats continue to wait and see whether Rep. Bobby Etheridge will join the race against Sen. Richard Burr (R). Democratic strategists have grown more optimistic in recent weeks about that possibility though Etheridge has come close to running several times in the past before ultimately backing away.
October 26, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
Categories: Senate , Short Takes
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