Gov. Tom Vilsack is forming a new political action committee to help finance Democratic candidates in the 38 gubernatorial elections to be held this year and next.
The effort is called Heartland PAC and Vilsack said Tuesday that it will be designed to develop issues and ideas, as well as raise money.
In a video on the group's Web site, Vilsack described the effort as "a call for action for Democrats to regain the mantle as the party of ideas."
Vilsack will launch the new PAC on Aug. 1, and his success will go a long way to determining his political future.
The governor on Monday took over as head of the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group that former President Clinton used to pave his way to the White House.
Vilsack is not seeking a third term, and has said he'll campaign hard for Democratic gubernatorial candidates nationwide even as his final term winds down. His success and the message developed by Democrats over the next year will help determine whether Vilsack can become a viable candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
"We must close the idea and message gap," Vilsack said in the video.
Longtime Vilsack allies Jerry Crawford, a well-known Des Moines lawyer and prominent Democratic activist who headed John Kerry's campaign in Iowa in 2004, and B.J. Thornberry, former executive director of the Democratic Governors' Association, are listed as treasurer and secretary of the new PAC, while Vilsack is the president.
"This is about big ideas and a message," said Vilsack spokesman Matt Paul. "It's about policies that work and exchanging ideas."
Paul said the PAC would be free to "directly or indirectly influence" the upcoming governors elections, and he said the group would file regular disclosures of the money it raises and spends.
The naming of the PAC is far from a coincidence. Vilsack and other potential Democratic candidates for outside of Washington often argue that Democrats must offer messages that resonate in the nation's heartland.