Tom Vilsack

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Posted by bender 04/10/2009 @ 17:10

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Vilsack stands up for livestock farms -
By PHILIP BRASHER • • May 14, 2009 Washington, DC - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended the livestock industry against a lawmaker's allegations that crowded conditions and antibiotic usage in modern farms are endangering human...
Vilsack touts USDA accomplishments during Missouri listening session - Brownfield
by Tom Steever US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Southeast Missouri Tuesday to listen to comments and concerns of local residents. Vilsack also told the audience what USDA has been up to during Vilsack's first one hundred-and-some days in office....
WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009— Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for invasive species projects. In total, there are 19 projects, funded at over $38 million, in 14 states....
Loan limbo frustrates farmers - Greeley Tribune
US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, right, answers a question from area cattle feeder Ken Ulrich on Monday after a community forum at the Morgan County Fairgrounds. Associated Press Members of Colorado's congressional delegation hope to schedule a...
Ag secretary: Rural areas need to promote benefits - The Associated Press
(AP) — The federal government needs to help rural areas promote their advantages to the American public and find ways to create higher-paying jobs outside of urban areas, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. "Sometimes we think any job is...
Ag Secretary Says Prevention is Key to Food Safety - Farm Futures
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told the White House Food Safety Working Group Listening Session Wednesday that food safety is of the highest concern for all of us. "While Americans enjoy one of the safest food supplies in the world,...
Livestock traceback participation disappoints -USDA - Reuters
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with meat industry leaders last month and vowed to move aggressively to improve the livestock tracking system which he said "does not provide the level of protection for the market and animal health that is...
Carry That Weight - Texas Observer
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack jackhammered a DC sidewalk to grow his own greens. Democratic members of Congress are carrying dog-eared copies of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Meanwhile, the American gut, oblivious to the posturing,...
Big-name hunting season at the Shore - Philadelphia Inquirer
Tom Vilsack, now President Obama's secretary of agriculture. Vilsack comes nearly every summer, apparently to visit with in-laws, but clearly to stay out of Iowa's limelight, such as it is. Ocean City, too, is the summer home of author Gay Talese,...
Apparently Tom Vilsack Will Keep Getting Those USDA Checks After All - National Review Online Blogs
ProPublica has posted letters from Obama cabinet officials to their designated agency ethics officials, among them the letter from Tom Vilsack, now secretary of agriculture. Local press and some specialty publications reported that Vilsack collected...

Tom Vilsack

Seal of the United States Department of Agriculture

Thomas James "Tom" Vilsack (born December 12, 1950) is an American politician, a member of the Democratic Party, and presently the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He served as the 40th Governor of the state of Iowa. He was first elected in 1998 and re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002. On November 30, 2006, he formally launched his candidacy for the Democratic Party's nomination for President of the United States in the 2008 election, but ended his bid on February 23, 2007.

As of May 1, 2007, Vilsack joined the Des Moines office of Minneapolis-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney and is of counsel. Shortly after ending his 2008 bid for the White House, he endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and was named the national co-chair for Clinton's presidential campaign.

Barack Obama announced Vilsack's selection to be the United States Secretary of Agriculture under his administration on December 17, 2008. Vilsack's nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on January 20, 2009.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tom Vilsack was abandoned at birth and placed in a Roman Catholic orphanage. He was adopted in 1951 by Bud and Dolly Vilsack, who raised him in the Roman Catholic faith. His adoptive father was a real-estate agent and insurance salesman, and his adoptive mother was a homemaker.

He attended high school at Shady Side Academy, a preparatory school in Pittsburgh. He received a Bachelor's degree in 1972 from Hamilton College in New York. While at Hamilton College he joined The Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) in 1975 from Albany Law School. He and his wife, Ann Christine "Christie" Bell moved to rural Mount Pleasant, Iowa, her hometown, where he joined his father-in-law in law practice.

Tom and Christie Vilsack have two sons, Jess and Doug. Jess graduated from Hamilton College in 2000 where he, like his father, was a member of The Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Jess received a J.D. from the University of Iowa in May 2003. Doug later graduated from Colorado College and is currently attending the University of Colorado School of Law. He is also a research associate at the School of Law's Energy and Environmental Security Initiative (EESI).

On May 1, 2006 it was announced that Vilsack joined the Board of Directors of Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Learning, a leading publisher of research-based math curricula for middle school, high school, and postsecondary students.

Tom Vilsack was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1987, following the murder of mayor Ed King by a disgruntled citizen. He was elected to the Iowa State Senate in 1992 by a relatively slim margin. Following election, he worked on legislation requiring companies who received state tax incentives to provide better pay and benefits. He helped pass a law for workers to receive health coverage when changing jobs, and helped re-design Iowa's Workforce Development Department. He also wrote a bill to have the State of Iowa assume a 50% share of local county mental health costs.

In 1998, Terry Branstad chose not to seek re-election following sixteen consecutive years as governor. The Iowa Republican Party nominated Jim Ross Lightfoot, a recent former U.S. House Representative. Lightfoot became the odds-on favorite to succeed Branstad. Tom Vilsack defeated former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark McCormick in the Democratic primary. Vilsack chose as his running mate Sally Pederson. Vilsack narrowly won the general election – making it the first time in 30 years that a Democrat was elected Governor of Iowa.

In 2002 he won his second term in office by defeating Republican challenger attorney Doug Gross by eight points. Also in 2002, Vilsack appointed Dr. Stephen Gleason as his Chief of Staff. Gleason resigned in 2005 to pursue a career in Medical Consulting at Health Policy Strategies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was replaced by Cynthia Eisenhauer, former director of the Iowa Department of Management and Iowa Workforce Development.

The first year of his second term saw creation of the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a $503 million appropriation designed to boost the Iowa economy by offering grants to corporations and initiatives pledged to create higher-income jobs. Vilsack used a line-item veto, later ruled unconstitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court, to pass the fund, vetoing portions of the bill that would have cut income taxes and eased business regulations. After a special session of the Iowa General Assembly on September 7, 2004, $100 million in state money was set aside to honor previously made commitments. The Grow Iowa Values Fund was reinstated at the end of the 2005 session: under the current law, $50 million per year will be set aside over the next ten years.

Candidates seeking to replace Vilsack, most notably Ed Fallon, criticized this program. Their complaints include the fact that companies lured into Iowa by the fund, unlike Iowa-based corporations, can be lured away by greater cash incentives elsewhere. Another criticism is that it does nothing to promote new business. In July 2005, Vilsack signed an executive order allowing all felons who had served their sentences to vote again. Iowa law previously held that convicted felons are permanently disenfranchized unless voting rights were restored personally by the governor; Vilsack did away with this process.

For most of Tom Vilsack's tenure as Governor, Republicans held effective majorities in the Iowa General Assembly. Following the November 2, 2004, elections, the 50-member Senate was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans held a 51-49 majority in the House of Representatives.

During the 2005 legislative session, Vilsack signed into law greater restrictions that require products containing the active ingredient pseudoephedrine to be sold behind pharmacy counters, as opposed to open-access at open-shelf level. Those wishing to buy such products must show identification and sign a log book. The new law, designed to reduce methamphetamine use in Iowa, took effect on May 21, 2005.

Following Kelo v. City of New London, Vilsack vetoed but was overridden on Iowa House file 2351, a bill to restrict Iowa's use of eminent domain. "I am particularly troubled with the provisions that restrict the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes to areas defined as slum or blighted."--Tom Vilsack, veto letter for Iowa House file 2351.

Vilsack is a former member of the National Governors Association Executive Committee. He was chair of the Democratic Governors Association in 2004. He was also chair of the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, the Governors Ethanol Coalition, and the Midwest Governors Conference, and has also been chair and vice chair of the National Governors Association's committee on Natural Resources, where he worked to develop the NGA's farm and energy policies.

Prior to Democratic Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry's selection of Senator John Edwards, Vilsack was thought to be high on the list of potential running mates for Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

In 2005, Vilsack established Heartland PAC, a political action committee aimed at electing Democratic Governors. In the first report, he raised over half a million dollars.

Vilsack left office in 2007; he did not seek a third term. Succeeded by Chet Culver, he became the first Democratic governor since Clyde L. Herring seventy years earlier to be succeeded by another Democrat.

On 30 November, 2006, Tom Vilsack became the second Democrat (after Mike Gravel) to officially announce intentions to run for the presidency in the 2008 election. In his announcement speech, he said "America's a great country, and now I have the opportunity to begin the process, the legal process of filing papers to run for President of the United States." Vilsack dropped out of the race on 23 February, 2007 citing monetary constraints.

Vilsack's campaign made significant use of social media by maintaining an active MySpace profile, a collection of viral video clips on YouTube, a Facebook profile, videoblog on, and a conference call with the podcast site TalkShoe. On January 27, 2007, Vilsack called into the Regular Guys Show hosted by Kurt Hurner to conduct a fifteen minute interview on his running for the Democratic nomination for 2008. Since then, Vilsack appeared again, now The Kurt Hurner Show at Talk Shoe on August 12, 2008, this time as a supporter of Barack Obama for president taking questions from callers to the program for thirty minutes.

During the campaign, Vilsack joined fellow candidates Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in supporting the establishment of a U.S. Public Service Academy as a civilian counterpart to the military academies.

On December 5th, Vilsack announced that he favored withdrawing most of the U.S. forces from Iraq and leaving a small force in the Northern region for a limited period. While acknowledging that a withdrawal would lead to more violence, he felt that it would be the only way for the Iraqi government to take control of their country.

The Vilsack Energy Security Agenda set out a strategy to dramatically reduce U.S. reliance on foreign energy and to cut the United States' carbon emissions. It also called for replacing the Department of Energy with a new Department of Energy Security, to oversee and redefine the federal government’s role in energy policy. The reorganized department would have acted as an institutional advocate for innovation in energy policy, and was intended to ensure accountability as the nation works towards achieving its energy security goals. Through this new department, America’s overriding objective in energy policy would have been to make America the unquestioned leader in clean energy, enhancing national security and economic strength.

On December 17, 2008, then-President-elect Barack Obama announced his choice of Vilsack as the nominee to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack has governed a farm state as did the previous two Secretaries of Agriculture, Senator Mike Johanns (2005-2007) and Ed Schafer (2007-2009). Reaction to Vilsack's nomination from agricultural groups was largely positive and included endorsements from the Corn Refiners Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Opposition to the nomination came from the Organic Consumers Association, which outlined in a November 2008 report several reasons why it believed Vilsack would be a poor choice for the position, particularly as energy and environmental reforms were a key point of the Obama campaign. Among those reasons the report cites: Vilsack has repeatedly demonstrated a preference for large industrial farms and genetically modified crops; as Iowa state governor, he originated the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, effectively blocking local communities from regulating where genetically engineered crops would be grown; additionally, Vilsack was the founder and former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership, and was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an industry lobbying group. The Senate confirmed Vilsack's nomination for the position by unanimous consent on January 20, 2009.

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Tom Vilsack presidential campaign, 2008

Tom Vilsack

After being considered as a potential Vice Presidential candidate for Senator John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack decided to begin a campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States in 2008. On November 30, 2006 he became the second Democratic candidate to officially announce his intentions for a presidential run. Vilsack's campaign made a significant use of the internet during the short run, which ended on February 23, 2007 due to a lack of necessary funds. Vilsack promptly endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for the presidency after his exit.

If he were elected, Vilsack would have been the first president born in Pennsylvania since James Buchanan, and the first to be born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He would also be the first to come from Iowa since Herbert Hoover, the second Roman Catholic president following John F. Kennedy and the first president to be born in the 1950s. Vilsack ran one of the earliest presidential campaigns in the election cycle.

At the close of his eight years as Governor of Iowa, Vilsack embarked on a campaigning tour for the Democratic gubernatorial candidates as the head of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. While on the trail he mulled a presidential run and gauged possible support. Following the 2006 mid-term elections Vilsack was inspired by the results proclaiming that "Americans sent a clear message" that "they want leaders who share their values, understand their needs and respect their intelligence" and that as president he would "intend" to do this. On November 9 Vilsack filed with the FEC and announced his campaign team's intentions to "put together the building blocks needed to run a successful national presidential campaign" before his eventual formal announcement on November 30.

Vilsack officially entered the race on November 30, 2006 at the planned venue of Mount Pleasant, Iowa stating that his campaign would center on the issues of energy independence, national security, and the nation's economy. He declared that his campaign would have "the courage to create change" in the "endless partisan debates" in Washington and decried the Bush Administration as a white house "whose first impulse is to divide and to conquer" fueling partisanship. The candidate also acknowledged himself as "the underdog and long shot" in light of the perceived shortcomings of his campaign: most notably that he remained largely unknown outside Iowa, which made it difficult for him to raise funds.

Following his entrance, Vilsack began December on a five-state campaigning tour beginning in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While in Pittsburgh he addressed a local Democratic Committee reminiscing about his childhood in the city and how his adopted mother overcame alcoholism. Vilsack also discussed his plan for ending the war in Iraq by giving more control to the Iraqis asserting “It's their country, it's their future and they should be willing to fight for it and they certainly should be willing to die for it." He returned to Iowa for a fundraiser later in the week.

On February 15 before a planned appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Vilsack visited the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco where he gave a speech about energy. He explained that his campaign remained carbon neutral by purchasing carbon credits for any emissions left by any campaign activities. Later in the day Vilsack went to Los Angeles for the Tonight Show where he joked about his relative obscurity. In response to a question about Leno's occasional joking about the candidate, Vilsack remarked that he was okay with the joking because "when you are just below the margin of error in polls, anything anybody says about you is important." Vilsack stated that he hoped his appearance on the tonight show would decrease the discrepancy on name recognition between him and his fellow Democratic rivals.

Vilsack officially withdrew from the race on February 23 stating that the crowded field of Democratic candidates made it impossible for him to raise enough money to continue his campaign. He summed up his campaign explaining that he "came up against something for the first time in life that hard work and effort couldn’t overcome." Vilsack lambasted the current presidential process explaining that it had been overrun by money. He left the race proclaiming that "It is money and only money that is the reason we are leaving today." During the campaign Vilsack reported earning $1.1 million and ended the campaign with only $396,000 cash on hand.

Rasmussen reports showed on December 18, 2006 that Tom Vilsack led former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in a head to head matchup by a margin of 37% to 29%. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani led Vilsack by 56% to 28%. In February 2007 prior to Vilsack's withdrawal, the candidate trailed Republican Senator John McCain in a head to head matchup by a margin of 50% to 22% . In a separate poll by Rasmussen Vilsack was viewed favorable by 21% of the electorate and unfavorable by 21%. 58% of voters did not have enough information about Vilsack to have an opinion. On ideology, 19% of voters considered Vilsack a moderate, 9% considered him a liberal and 7% considered him a conservative. A majority 65% of respondents could not describe Vilsack's political stands.

According to Gallup, Vilsack stood at 1% in November and December 2006 among the field of other Democrats. By January 2007 he stood at 0% where he remained until his withdrawal in February.

Vilsack was nominated by President-elect Obama to serve as the United States Secretary of Agriculture in his incoming administration.

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United States Department of Agriculture

United States Department of Agriculture Seal

The United States Department of Agriculture (informally the Agriculture Department or USDA) is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and abroad.

The head of the department is the Secretary of Agriculture, who is a member of the Cabinet. The current Secretary is Tom Vilsack.

In 1849 the Patent Office was transferred to the newly created Department of the Interior. In the ensuing years, agitation for a separate bureau of agriculture within the department or a separate department devoted to agriculture kept recurring.

On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln established the independent Department of Agriculture to be headed by a Commissioner without Cabinet status. Lincoln called it the "people's department." In the 1880s, varied interest groups were lobbying for Cabinet representation. Business interests sought a Department of Commerce and Industry. Farmers tried to raise the Department of Agriculture to Cabinet rank. In 1887, the House of Representatives and Senate passed bills giving Cabinet status to the Department of Agriculture and Labor, but farm interests objected to the addition of labor, and the bill was killed in conference committee. Finally, on February 9, 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill into law elevating the Department of Agriculture to Cabinet level.

In 1887, the Hatch Act provided for the federal funding of agricultural experiment stations in each state. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 then funded cooperative extension services in each state to teach agriculture, home economics and related subjects to the public. With these and similar provisions, the USDA reached out to every county of every state.

During the Great Depression, farming remained a common way of life for millions of Americans. The Department of Agriculture was crucial to providing concerned persons with the assistance that they needed to make it through this difficult period, helping to ensure that food continued to be produced and distributed to those who needed it, assisting with loans for small landowners, and contributing to the education of the rural youth. In this way, the Department of Agriculture became a source of comfort as people struggled to survive in rural areas. Allegations have been made that throughout the agency's history it discriminated against African-American farmers, denying them loans and access to other programs well into the 1990s. The effect of this discrimation was the near total elimation of African-American farmers in the United States. In 1999, the USDA settled a class action lawsuit alleging discrimination against African-American farmers.

Today, many of the programs concerned with the distribution of food and nutrition to people of America and providing nourishment as well as nutrition education to those in need are run and operated under the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

USDA also concerns itself with assisting farmers and food producers with the sale of crops and food on both a domestic and on the world market.

The USDA also plays an important role in overseas aid programs by providing surplus foods to developing countries. This aid can go through USAID, foreign governments, international bodies such as WFP, or approved non profit organizations. The Agriculture Act of 1949, section 416 (b) and Agricultural Development and Trade Act of 1954 (also known as Public Law 480 or just PL 480) provides the legal basis of such actions.

The United States Secretary of Agriculture administers the USDA.

The USDA's National Animal Identification System assists large agri-business and factory farms track disease in herds, a necessary regulation for sale of meat overseas.

The USDA announced on August 27, 2008 that 639 farms and rural businesses in 43 states and the Virgin Islands have been selected to receive $35 million in grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. While many of the awards typically go towards more energy-efficient grain dryers, the USDA notes that a farm in Iowa will use its grant to replace a propane heating system with a geothermal heating system, while a firm in Louisiana will purchase energy-efficient electric motors for an irrigation well.

The grants and loans are awarded through the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program of the USDA Rural Development office. The program was created by Section 9006 of the 2002 Farm Bill and will be expanded next year under the 2008 Farm Bill.

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Stephen Gleason

Stephen Charles Gleason (June 30, 1946(1946-06-30) - March 25, 2006) was a osteopathic physician, advisor to President of the United States Bill Clinton, chief of staff to Governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack, and humanitarian.

He was born the first son of Gerald Charles and Fern Louise Gleason in rural Iowa. He graduated from East High School in Des Moines, Iowa in 1964. He married his first wife, Diana Lynn Townsend, in June 1966, raised his first three children, and was subsequently divorced in 1981. Gleason married his second wife, Lisa Ann Corcoran, in August 1981, and raised his last two children as well as adopting two more children from Russia.

Stephen Gleason earned his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from what is now Des Moines University medical school where he was the valedictorian of his class. He took a job with Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Gleason also served as a health-care adviser to President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, and he worked for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack chose him to run the Iowa Department of Public Health in 1999. In 2002, Gleason was named chief of staff, which is the top administrative post in state government. Gleason held that job until 2005, when he resigned to pursue a career in Medical Consulting at Health Policy Strategies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Gleason was a humanitarian, dedicating significant time to foreign disaster relief missions in Ethiopia and El Salvador. He is also a member of the Iowa Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.

Gleason battled Crohn's disease and became addicted to the painkillers prescribed as a part of his treatment in the late 1970s. In response to his addiction he founded a new addiction-treatment program through Mercy Medical Center to help others suffering the same fate. He held himself out as evidence that addiction can happen to anyone. Gleason remained sober for more than 20 years before relapsing in 2005.

Gleason died on March 25, 2006 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Former president Bill Clinton, Governor Vilsack and Senator Tom Harkin spoke at Gleason's funeral on March 30, 2006 at St. Augustin's Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Christie Vilsack

Christie Vilsack is the former First Lady of Iowa as the wife of Governor Tom Vilsack. An impassioned supporter of John Kerry in her state's presidential caucus, Vilsack was invited to speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that would formally nominate Kerry.

Born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Vilsack attended Kirkland College in Clinton, New York to obtain her bachelor's degree in English. (Tom Vilsack attended Hamilton College, Kirkland's brother school.) She went on to obtain her master's degree in journalism at the University of Iowa from which she launched her career as a school teacher.

Her husband, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, announced intentions to seek the Democratic nomination for president in the 2008 election, but has since withdrawn his candidacy. Both Tom and Christie have endorsed Former First Lady, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She and her husband have two sons, Jess and Doug.

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Sally Pederson

Sally Pederson

Sally Pederson (Born January 13, 1951 in Ottumwa, Iowa) was the 45th Lieutenant Governor of the state of Iowa. Pederson is a member of the Democratic Party and is a native of Vinton, Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University.

Prior to her becoming Lt. Governor, Pederson served as an executive with the Meredith Corporation in Des Moines, Iowa. She also worked as an editor for Better Homes and Gardens. Pederson became Tom Vilsack's running mate when he first ran for governor in 1998, and was subsequently elected as Lt. Governor. Pederson again ran as Lt. Governor in the 2002 campaign, and the Vilsack-Pederson ticket won a second term in office.

During the 2004 election season, prior to the selection of John Edwards as the Vice-Presidential candidate it was widely rumored that Vilsack would be asked to become John Kerry's running mate in the Presidential election. It was later rumored that Vilsack would've been offered a cabinet level position in the event of a Kerry victory. If that had occurred, Pederson would have been named Governor of Iowa in Vilsack's place, and would as a result have become the first female Governor of Iowa.

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Source : Wikipedia