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January 8th, 2010

Branstad’s In. Is Culver Out?

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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Branstad RPIFormer Governor Terry Branstad announced the dates and the cities of his announcement tour yesterday. Branstad will formally enter the race on January 19th. Branstad served four terms as governor from 1983 to 1999 and is now running for an unprecedented fifth term.

Branstad’s four day announcement tour will take him to seventeen counties all across Iowa. He plans to visit Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Denison, Des Moines, Fairfield, Harlan, Mason City, Mt. Pleasant, Muscatine, Orange City, Ottumwa, Pella, Sioux City, Spencer, Storm Lake, and Waterloo. The tour is set to begin in Des Moines.

Last October, Branstad retired from Des Moines University in order to spend more time talking to Iowans and evaluating his potential political comeback. A number of polls, including a poll conducted by, have shown that Branstad would defeat Governor Culver handily in a head-to-head matchup. Before that happens, Branstad will first have to win a heated primary. Currently, there are three other Republican candidates vying for the GOP nomination, Bob Vander Plaats, Rod Roberts, and Chris Rants.

With the GOP field now set in Iowa, nationally, political pundits are wondering about Governor Culver’s future. A number of struggling Democratic governors and gubernatorial candidates have abruptly ended their re-election campaigns. In Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle was vulnerable and opted not to run again. Instead, the White House recruited Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to run. In Michigan, Lt. Governor John Cherry was running for Governor. Cherry was lagging in the polls and suddenly ended his campaign. The same is true for Governor Bill Ritter in Colorado.

The buzz in the nation’s capital is that the White House is systematically pressuring vulnerable Democratic candidates for governor and incumbents to either announce their retirement or withdraw from their races. An article in the National Review asks, “See some sort of pattern emerging here? Are Democrats — who are perceived to be in trouble — being bumped out of the way by Obama? Who’s next? Culver in Iowa or Strickland in Ohio? Both?”

Even Chris Cillizza with the Washington Post pointed out the heavy handedness of the White House. “Say what you will about the White House’s involvement in 2010 races — it has been at times heavy handed — it is clear that this Administration has decided to be an active player in key contests rather than a passive presence. In Colorado and Michigan, the White House maneuvered to preserve the party’s fading chances of holding the governorships,” Cillizza wrote yesterday.

Cillizza added, “A cold chill almost certainly went down the spines of the governors of Iowa and Ohio when they heard about Ritter’s retirement. Both Culver, in Iowa, and Strickland, in Ohio, find themselves in positions similar to Ritter — once considered unbeatable they have seen their state’s faltering economies (and their responses to it) erode their popular support. Do one or both men reconsider their re-election plans as a result?” emailed Governor Culver’s Chief of Staff John Frew to ask if the White House has applied any pressure on the Governor not to run for re-election. Frew responded with one word, “No.”

Photo by Dave Davidson

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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