It is no secret that Terry Branstad is gearing up for a run at an unprecedented sixth gubernatorial term, but he basically confirmed his candidacy during the grand opening of the Iowa Republican 2014 Victory headquarters on Saturday. It might have been a slip of the tongue, but the governor clearly said, “When I become an official candidate.” Not if. When.
Several of the 175 supporters packed into the Urbandale office chuckled, knowing that, despite Branstad’s refusal to make his campaign official until 2014, he clearly plans to be on the ballot next year. Several other remarks by the governor gave that indication.
“Our goal is to have the best organized campaign that we’ve ever run,” Branstad said. “My feeling is, you always want to do better than you’ve ever done before. You want to learn from the past.”
The Branstad campaign has already hired four field staffers, a political director, communications director and campaign manager. Together, the team has assembled more than 1,800 precinct and county leaders to aide his reelection efforts.
“I’ve been able to win counties like Dubuque County and Carroll County and counties that Democrats normally win because I think people know I’m very much a people person. We’re going to run a people campaign, all 99 counties. We’re not going to leave anybody out. This time, we intend to carry Lee County, which I’ve never carried before,” Branstad vowed.
The governor held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. last week and his annual “birthday bash” is coming up next month. Although it is a campaign lacking an official candidate, this is a full-scale operation already in election mode. Branstad says they are way ahead of schedule, as well.
“I think Iowans want a leader that’s willing to make the tough decisions, set ambitious goals and make things happen. I’m enthused. I’m excited. I’m enjoying this opportunity and I want to continue to serve the people,” the governor told reporters after his speech.
Branstad was joined at the lighthearted event by Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and State Auditor Mary Mosiman. Each Republican official made brief speeches, heaping praise on the others assembled.
The office space in Urbandale will house all of their 2014 campaigns, as well as those for Congressman Tom Latham and Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who were unable to attend. Latham was in D.C. dealing with the potential government shutdown. Schultz had a scheduling conflict, but Branstad and Reynolds praised them in their absence and mentioned Schultz’s favorite topic.
“Polling shows that 71% of Iowans support Voter ID legislation,” Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds said, as the crowd roared with approval. “Let’s do what we can to send Senator Dix two more Republican state senators that will work with Secretary Schultz to get Voter ID legislation passed.”
Terry Branstad’s granddaughter Mackenzie was a frequent face on the trail during his successful 2010 campaign. Branstad now has five granddaughters, and four of them garnered some of his spotlight on Saturday, to the amusement of the governor and the assembled crowd.
“What are you talking about,” one of them queried while Branstad was discussing his amazing electoral track record. The crowd laughed, while the governor admitted that she stole the show.
Governor Branstad also thanked the volunteers who devote countless hours of their time to helping Republicans get elected. Several of the state’s most fervent Republican helpers were on hand, including Phillip John Condo, who made more than 25,000 calls for Republican candidates in 2012, out of that very same Urbandale office, which housed the Iowa GOP’s Victory operation last year.
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