Branstad campaign news roundup (w/poll)

“Sources close to [former Governor Terry] Branstad” tell WHO-TV’s Dave Price that Branstad will announce his candidacy for a fifth term as governor this Friday. Whatever the date, it’s obvious Branstad has committed to the race.

Join me after the jump for recent news and unintentional comedy from the Branstad camp. You’ll also find a Bleeding Heartland reader poll at the bottom of this post.

On Monday Jeff Boeyink resigned as executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa in order to head the exploratory committee Branstad created last Wednesday. Representing the Branstad campaign, Richard Schwarm said Boeyink’s hire “does not signal any change in Terry Branstad’s status as a potential gubernatorial candidate.” However, everyone knows Boeyink would not quit his full-time position with the GOP without assurances that Branstad will enter this race.

From Tom Beaumont’s article for the Des Moines Register:

Boeyink, 46, had been with the influential Republican-leaning Iowans for Tax Relief more than 20 years, where he worked his way up to president before becoming the state Republican Party’s executive director in February.

Boeyink said his work with fundraising, policy, lobbying and political advocacy for the group would serve him well, should Branstad continue on his path toward a comeback campaign.

“This campaign is going to have tens of thousands of active supporters. Mobilizing them will be very important, should Governor Branstad move forward,” Boeyink said.

Boeyink confirmed today that Branstad will hold a public media availability later this week. He also told Iowa Politics

it was hard to leave the party, but described his new job as a phenomenal opportunity and a dream come true.

“The opportunity to be involved in what potentially will be the most significant campaign in our state’s history — somebody in my profession, it’s something you cannot say ‘no’ to,” Boeyink said.

“Governor Branstad…is somebody that I truly believe in; he’s the first person I ever voted for,” said Boeyink, a father of three who’s the former president of Iowans for Tax Relief. “This is kind of a dream come true, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…I’m a true believer, always have been.”

Over at The Iowa Republican blog, Craig Robinson speculates about likely candidates to replace Boeyink as executive director of the Iowa GOP.

These past few days, the Iowa Democratic Party noticed that the Draft Branstad PAC has continued to advocate for Branstad, in apparent violation of Iowa law:

“Breaking the law at the start of your campaign” said [Iowa Democratic Party Chair Michael Kiernan] “really sends an awful message to Iowans about what kind of leadership you will offer going forward.”

Screen captures indicate the 527 organization group continues to advocate for Branstad by name, even after he filed to become a candidate for Governor six days ago. Iowa election law prohibits so-called “527” groups from engaging in express advocacy on behalf of any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board executive director Charlie Smithson, in media reports Tuesday, indicated his agency is on notice of Draft Branstad’s violation of Iowa law and is recommending corrective action be taken.

By the time Smithson acts, the Draft Branstad PAC will be no more. Sandy Greiner announced plans to wind down the organization in a press release on Tuesday:

“Just last week, an exploratory committee was formed for Governor Branstad to possibly seek the governorship.

Today, we have learned that Governor Branstad has asked Jeff Boeyink, a seasoned political operative to join his exploratory committee in an important managerial role.

These two pieces of news are very exciting, and we believe that Governor Branstad will not only be an official candidate for governor, but will also be the next Governor of the State of Iowa.

Thousands of Iowans have joined the Draft Branstad Facebook page, signed the Draft Branstad petition on our website and followed us on Twitter, and Governor Branstad has clearly listened.

With today’s news about Mr. Boeyink, Draft Branstad is officially announcing our draft efforts are complete – a real grassroots mission accomplished!

I have enjoyed meeting and working with young Iowans from all around the state – you are truly the future of Iowa.

Thank you to the thousands of Iowans who have been instrumental in making this effort a success.  While Draft Branstad PAC will draw to a close, our efforts will not cease; instead we will continue this movement for change here in Iowa.

Please follow our new organization- NextGenPAC- that will work day in and day out to perfect the change Iowans desire.

We will release more information soon about this exciting new organization that will be focused on bringing about the change so many Iowans want right now in our state.”

In terms of dishonest image construction, “grassroots mission accomplished” is impressive. The Draft Branstad PAC operation was textbook “astroturf” (fake grassroots) fueled by big money. There’s nothing grassroots about the way Republican heavy-hitters wooed Branstad this summer. By the time the Draft Branstad PAC hit the scene in early September, the former governor had probably already decided to run.

Then again, The Daily Show’s writing crew couldn’t have come up with a more hilarious name for Greiner’s new organization than “NextGenPAC.” Branstad last gave off a “nextgen” vibe about three decades ago.

Christian Fong offered himself up as a next-generation candidate for governor, complete with campaign coordinators on Iowa campuses. Republican insiders and money men placed their bets on yesterday’s man instead. That’s understandable, but don’t pretend it’s forward-looking.

Please share your view of the Branstad campaign in this thread. I added a poll to this post based on a recent conversation with a friend. I think Culver is more likely to defeat Branstad than a Democrat is to defeat Grassley next year. My friend thinks the eventual Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate has a much better chance of beating Grassley than Culver has of beating Branstad. Take the poll and, if you like, explain your vote in the comments.

P.S.- Radio Iowa has the latest Christie Vilsack comments that have fueled speculation she’s ready to take on Grassley.

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  • I've said it many times

    Grassley is the most popular politician in this state.  Even if his favorability is under 50, he’ll still bring home the win.  He has the dough, name recognition, and the veteran status.

    Barring a meltdown (which can always happen in politics) he’ll be elected for his final term as U.S. Senator.

    The Senate race will be a bore…compared to the governor’s race.  I truly believe that this gubernatorial race will be the closest one in the nation.  We’ll see who TB picks as his running mate.  My first impression is Fong.  But, a power player like TB may well go with someone else.  

    Interesting Iowa political battles lie ahead.

    • I hear Branstad already has someone in mind

      not Fong. I’ve heard a few names mentioned, all prominent people in the Des Moines area business community.

      In my view, the goal for the Senate race is to keep Grassley to 55 percent or below, and to drive up Democratic turnout. That would help our down-ticket candidates greatly. A lot of Democrats used to be fairly indifferent to Grassley, but this year he has made them really mad. They might be willing to help GOTV against Grassley, even if they don’t like Culver.

    • Right on

      I think your analysis of the Senate race is right on, with one caveat.

      Everything I’m seeing so far suggests Grassley will win. It might be closer than it has been in the past, but he will still win one last time. My Roxanne Conlin/Art Small metaphor may have been a little off (a lot off, it seems), but I just don’t see her as a game changer.

      The one caveat is simply two words: Christie Vilsack. If she gets in, all bets are off.

      The governor’s race, on the other hand, is going to be huge. I don’t know if it will be the closest in the nation (there are some real corkers going on right now, even) but it will be close.

      My first impression is also Fong. I think Libby Jacobs would be a big mistake, if that’s who he’s thinking about.  

      • a source tells me it's not Jacobs

        but maddeningly won’t tell me who it supposedly is, except to say that it’s not Fong.