Governor Terry Branstad may be waiting for the calendar to turn to 2014 before he officially announces his re-election campaign, but his campaign is already in full swing. The Branstad-Reynolds campaign will announce today that it has already surpassed 1,000 county chairs, a staggering display of campaign organization that is rarely seen in statewide contests in Iowa.
Branstad already enjoys two other major advantages over the two Democrats who hope to challenge him next fall. The first is the universal name I.D. that comes with being the longest serving governor in the state’s history. The second his is his robust fundraising ability. When you add on top of that the Branstad campaign’s grassroots organization, the Democrats’ chances of defeating the five-term governor go from bad to worse.
To put the Branstad campaign’s organizational feat in to perspective, just consider that it took Congressman Bruce Braley twenty weeks to secure 130 county coordinators for his U.S. Senate campaign, and like Branstad, Braley doesn’t have a primary opponent. Not only is Branstad’s grassroots organization nine-times larger than Braley’s, but it was also accomplished in a much shorter timeframe.
Phil Valenziano, the Branstad campaign’s political director, was hired in the beginning of May. The campaign’s four field directors, Kaylee Carnahan, Jacob Johnson, Matt Leopold, and Nic Pottebaum, didn’t join the campaign until July 30th. That means in less than three weeks time, the Branstad campaign has assembled an organization that will be difficult for who ever his Democrat opponent may be to match in the general election.
The Branstad campaign is also quick to note that they are only in the initial stages of organizing their grassroots efforts. “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.”
Jon Laudner, an Iowa State University student, is Branstad’s Story County Co-Chair and a Floyd County native. “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,” Laudner stated. “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.”
Dr. Scott Ihrke, a small business owner and a Co-Chair in Plymouth County, appreciated the work the Branstad-Reynolds teams has done to improve the state’s business climate. “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.”
A longtime GOP activist, Joni Scotter, is serving as one of the campaign’s Linn County Co-Chairs. “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.”
While Republicans appear to be eager to help Branstad win a historic sixth term as Iowa’s governor, Branstad’s Democrat opponents are finding it difficult to take issue with his accomplishments over the past four years. Last week, State Senator Jack Hatch spent $40,000 on a TV ad attacking Branstad over a speeding incident involving the Governor’s black SUV that was being driven by a State Trooper at the time. Cedar Rapids State Representative Tyler Olson, on the other hand, spent the week trying to get Brandstad to call for Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson’s resignation over a pay-to-endorse scandal involving Sorenson and Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign.
While the 2014 general election is still a long ways away, the fact that Branstad’s opponents are trying to make political hay over controversies that don’t directly involve the governor himself is telling. Hatch is also quick to criticize Branstad for not implementing various provisions of Obamacare, but that’s not necessarily an issue that’s going to help Hatch in the general election.
Even though Democrats believe that Branstad is vulnerable in 2014, it will be difficult for them to make the case to Iowans for why Branstad should not be re-elected to another term. Four years ago, the budget was a mess, and state government stricken with scandals. To Branstad’s credit, he not only quickly turned around Iowa’s finances, but he has also proven that, by putting qualified people in charge of state agencies, government run more efficiently.
Branstad’s display of organizational strength only confirms that Iowans are more than happy with Branstad’s leadership. Below is a list of the 1,030 Iowans who have signed on to help the Branstad-Reynolds campaign win re-election in 2014.
Branstad, Reynolds announce 1,033 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 1,033 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.
Click here to view the Branstad-Reynolds campaign’s list of county co-chairs.
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