Former 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 TheIowaRepublican.com, 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?”
TheIowaRepublican.com 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
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