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Christie Vilsack Moves Toward King Challenge

Less than 24 hours after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed off on the state’s redistricting plan, Christie Vilsack (D) announced she’s exploring a campaign in the redrawn 4th district — taking the first step of an expected candidacy.

In a statement, Vilsack said she will move to the district next month to begin exploring a run. She launched a campaign website Wednesday.

“The decision to run for Congress deserves serious consideration,” she said. “It’s important to listen to Iowa families about the issues they want addressed in Congress. … Input from fellow Iowans will help me make the best decision and will give our state a campaign focused on collaboration and results, encouraging a new way to do business in Washington.”

The contest between Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), and Rep. Steve King, a conservative five-term Republican, sets up a clash of political titans in northwest Iowa and a race that will likely draw a great deal of interest and dollars from national groups.

Over the past week, national Democrats have been giddy about Vilsack’s potential candidacy in the new 4th district, which they argue is more competitive than the territory King previously represented. On Tuesday morning, EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock told Roll Call, “We are thrilled that she’s looking at that and planning to have many conversations with her as well.”

Minutes after Vilsack’s announcement, the conservative, anti-tax Club for Growth released a statement emphasizing its support for King, an early indication that the deep-pocketed group will likely spend to support the Congressman.

“Steve King has consistently stood up for the principles of economic freedom that create jobs and opportunity for Iowans. The people of Iowa are lucky to have him representing them in Congress,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said.

Iowa lost a seat to reapportionment, and the number of House districts dropped from five to four. As a result, district borders in the state were drastically altered through redistricting. Instead of running against one of the Democrats representing the eastern part of the state, where Vilsack is from, the former Iowa first lady opted to challenge King.