Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (search) said Monday that he will not seek the chairmanship of the Democratic Party.

"These challenges and opportunities require more time than I felt I could share," Vilsack said in a statement. "As a result I will not be a candidate for DNC chairman."

Earlier this month, Vilsack, an ally of failed presidential nominee John Kerry, telephoned several Democratic National Committee (search) members as he traveled in Europe, seeking their advice and asking them to withhold their endorsement of any candidate until he decided whether to seek the job.

The 400-plus DNC membership meets in February to select a replacement for Terry McAuliffe (search), who is not seeking another term.

Vilsack, who also has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008, said Monday that the responsibilities of governor were too demanding. A possible factor in his decision was the likelihood that the party chairmanship would preclude any run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The challenge for the next Democratic chairman is daunting after two straight losses in the presidential race and defeats in the House and Senate that have tightened the Republican grip on Congress.

Former presidential candidate Howard Dean (search) has called party regulars, expressing his interest in the DNC job.