Governor Terry Branstad’s re-election campaign revealed today that it has recruited 1,040 county co-chairs, including multiple volunteers in every county. I’ve posted the official announcement below. You can view the full list of Branstad-Reynolds co-chairs here (pdf). The campaign plans to line up chairs in every Iowa precinct.
This show of organizational force will cement the conventional wisdom that Branstad is favored to win a sixth term, assuming he seeks re-election. It may also fuel rumors in some Iowa Democratic circles that the governor is planning to stand aside for Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. The deliberate branding of “Branstad-Reynolds,” which Bleeding Heartland discussed here, is apparent in today’s press release. Every testimonial from a county co-chair mentions the “governor and lieutenant governor” as a unit, as well as both Branstad and Reynolds by name.
The governor and lieutenant governor have made fourteen joint public appearances in the last two weeks alone. That’s consistent with the Branstad administration’s pattern in recent months but a departure from the traditional role of Iowa’s lieutenant governors, who have largely handled events the governor doesn’t have time to attend. Some Democrats believe that Reynolds is being groomed to step in as the candidate.
If Branstad bows out shortly before the filing deadline next March, an organization with more than 1,000 volunteers could easily collect enough signatures for Reynolds to qualify for the ballot as a gubernatorial candidate. In contrast, other Republicans would be hard-pressed to collect at least 3,654 valid signatures spread across at least ten counties on short notice.
I still believe Branstad will run for re-election, barring some catastrophic health event. Any comments about the governor’s race are welcome in this thread.
P.S.- An alternate rumor has Branstad planning to resign in the middle of his sixth term, turning the office over to Reynolds. Perhaps for that reason, some conservative Republicans are plotting to try to replace Reynolds on the ticket at next summer’s statewide convention, according to longtime political reporter Mike Glover. Branstad told reporters today, “We’re not afraid of any challenge” to Reynolds for the lieutenant governor slot.
Branstad-Reynolds press release, August 19:
Branstad, Reynolds announce 1,040 county chairs
Chairs secured in all 99 Iowa counties; Organization and county chairs continue to be recruited
(URBANDALE, Iowa) – Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds’ campaign committee – the Governor Branstad Committee – today announced the initial organization of 1,040 county chairs across the state. The organization, which will continue to grow as the campaign works to fill every precinct, includes co-chairs in every county.
“This is just the beginning of our continual work to build the strongest grassroots organization Iowa Republicans have ever seen,” said campaign manager Jake Ketzner. “We find as we visit with Iowans they are proud to join Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds’ team because of their tireless work bringing jobs to Iowa, growing our family incomes, providing a world-class education for our children and reining in frivolous government spending.”
In their own words, Branstad-Reynolds county co-chairs shared why they are standing behind Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds:
“As an Iowa State University student, I appreciate the governor and lieutenant governor’s work to provide the first tuition freeze at Regent universities in over thirty years. I also know Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds are working diligently to bring even more good, high-paying jobs to Iowa to keep young people like myself in our state.” – Jon Laudner, Iowa State University student, Story County Co-Chair, Floyd County native.
“Unlike businesspeople in other states, small business owners like myself have the fortune of having a governor and lieutenant governor who have restored predictability and stability in state budgeting. Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds’ leadership has allowed my business the ability to grow without the fear of looming tax hikes and government red tape.” – Dr. Scott Ihrke, small business owner, Plymouth County Co-Chair
“Iowa was in serious trouble four years ago, but under Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds’ leadership, Iowa’s unemployment has dropped significantly from 6.1 to 4.6 percent, our budget is balanced and transformational education reform has been passed. I’m on team Branstad-Reynolds because the governor and lieutenant governor are building Iowa for a prosperous future.” – Joni Scotter, Linn County Co-Chair