Former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (D) was identified as the top pick by voters in the state to run in next year's race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in a Des Moines Register poll released late Thursday.
Fifty-six percent of Iowans said Vilsack would be an appealing candidate compared with just 35 percent who said he wouldn't be. The only other candidates tested in the poll to have more respondents like their potential candidacies than not were Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA). Braley on Thursday announced his intention to run. Vilsack has yet to announce if he will run. Iowa-based pollster J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the poll for the Register, said the findings may be the impetus for a Vilsack run.
“This is the kind of poll finding that launches campaigns,” Selzer said.
The poll showed low enthusiasm for Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a tea party firebrand and favorite among the conservative Iowa GOP, to launch a bid in the race. Thirty-three percent of Hawkeye State residents said they find a King Senate campaign appealing, while a plurality of 41 percent said they do not.
Recent polls have found broad support for the conservative congressman to run among Republicans in the state, although there are indications that a new Karl Rove-backed group may make an effort to find a more a Republican more electable than King. On Thursday, King circulated an email to supporters saying that Rove won't be able to "bully" him out of a Senate run.