Governor Terry Branstad announced yesterday that Matt Hinch will start work as his new chief of staff on October 14. A short bio of Hinch is in the press release I've posted after the jump. He has worked as a Congressional and campaign staffer to U.S. Representative Tom Latham, chief of staff to Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, and most recently as a lobbyist for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
Hinch's connections with the partnership made me wonder whether he might open the governor's mind regarding proposed passenger rail service between Chicago and Omaha. Branstad has long opposed allocating state funds to match a federal grant for passenger rail. Like many business groups, the Greater Des Moines Partnership has supported state funding for the rail project as part of its legislative agenda. But probably I am raising false hopes; interviews Hinch gave last year suggest that rail wasn't on his radar as an issue to press on behalf of the partnership. Moreover, Hinch's former boss Latham has historically been hostile to funding alternate modes of transportation, including passenger rail. Hinch's former boss Paulsen works for a trucking company and adamantly opposes state funding for passenger rail.
Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley has served as interim chief of staff since Jeff Boeyink left last month to start work as a lobbyist. She's more qualified to run the governor's office than she is for her current position, so I thought she might become the next permanent chief of staff. Perhaps she is gearing up for a second bid to become Iowa's attorney general. Running for statewide office is a full-time job.
Official press release:
Branstad names Matt Hinch as new chief of staff
October 1, 2013
Gov. Terry E. Branstad today named Matt Hinch as the new chief of staff for the Branstad-Reynolds administration. Hinch, 33, replaces Jeff Boeyink, who resigned last month for a private sector opportunity. Hinch begins October 14.
"Matt Hinch brings a diversity of experience to this position, and we are excited to begin working with him," said Branstad. "After an extensive search, I believe we have found a chief of staff who has an impressive combination of public and private sector experience, and someone who will help successfully lead my team as we approach next year's legislative session. Matt is ready to hit the ground running, and I am pleased he is taking on this responsibility on behalf of the people of Iowa."
Hinch most recently served as the senior vice president of government relations and public policy for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, where he was instrumental in building support for the governor's property tax reduction and education plans. Previously, he served as chief of staff to Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, as well as legislative director and campaign manager for Congressman Tom Latham.
"I want to thank the governor for this opportunity, and I look forward to building on his recent legislative successes," said Hinch. "Iowa has seen a turnaround under the Branstad-Reynolds administration, from instilling the fiscal discipline to again balance the budget, to record job-creating investments and a business climate that encourages higher employment. This is an exciting time for Iowa, and we will continue working to reach the administration's substantial goals for job creation, education and health care."
Reynolds noted Hinch's experience and reputation as a hard worker and problem solver.
"We are excited to see all the great things Matt will accomplish in this new role," said Reynolds. "This is a demanding job, and one Matt is uniquely qualified to fill. He shares our passion for Iowa, and will play an important part for us in building a strong foundation for the future."
Hinch is a graduate of the University of Iowa. He resides in West Des Moines with his wife Ali. They have one child.