The smiles you may be seeing on the faces of Iowa Democrats have everything to do with the Associated Press announcement that Christie Vilsack has set-up an exploratory committee to potentially run in Iowa's newly redrawn fourth congressional district.
"Serving Iowa is both a privilege and a responsibility," Vilsack said in a statement to FOX News. "The decision to run for Congress deserves serious consideration. Next month, I will move to Ames and continue to explore the possibility of representing Iowa in the US House of Representatives."
This would potentially set-up a show-down between the former First Lady of Iowa -- she is the wife of former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack -- and Republican fire-brand Rep. Steve King.
"Understand, Christie is just at the exploratory level, but we know who our (2012 Congressional) candidates are. We know who our President is, and we are ready to go work now. The (Republicans) can't say that," said Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Iowa lost a U.S. House seat to redistricting, going from five to four. And before the re-drawing even began, Mrs. Vilsack had signaled interest running for Congress and may have been willing to run against Democrat Leonard Boswell in a primary skirmish.
Boswell is the second most senior member of the Iowa House delegation, first winning his seat in 1996. It had been the wish of state party leaders that they could avoid a primary battle for any of the three Iowa Democratic Representatives, Boswell, Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley.
Today, it would appear Iowa Democratic Party leadership has gotten its wish. Loebsack signaled early he would be buying a home in his re-drawn 1st district to run again. Braley stays at home to run in the reconfigured 2nd district.
Boswell's 3rd district now extends southwest of Des Moines and Polk County, picking up a substantial amount of Republican turf with it.
The new fourth district is home to both of Iowa's Republican Congressmen, King and Tom Latham. But Latham has announced he'll move into the 3rd district to challenge Boswell.
For Christie Vilsack, making her first run for elected office, the move to challenge King may create a situation where she guaranteed a good outcome. Fundraising for Vilsack is expected to be relatively easy. Her husband is a national figure as current U.S. Agriculture Secretary. She'll be up against the often outspoken King, whose combination of Tea Party backing and conservative politics should make it likely he'll raise plenty of campaign cash.
Plus, even should Vilsack fall short in her effort to oust King, it's expected Iowa Democrats will remember Vilsack avoided a potentially difficult and expensive congressional primary battle and took on King, the Iowa Republican Congressman they truly would like to defeat.
"I'm pledged to represent all the people of the 5th District and I will do so to the best of my ability," King said in a statement. "We have built very strong and effective relationships in the current 5th District and I'm looking forward to establishing similar relationships with residents of the new 4th District as we make plans for the 2012 election."
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.