Collecting petition signatures to qualify for the ballot is one of the most tedious tasks in the electoral process, especially for statewide candidates. It might seem like a simple undertaking, but is in fact extremely time consuming and often frustrating. It is one of the least enjoyable things about working on a campaign.
However, Terry Branstad calls the process “a labor of love”. There was plenty of labor put in on his behalf. The massive amount of signatures turned in by Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign on Tuesday is extremely impressive.
To qualify for the 2014 ballot, a Republican candidate for governor needs to submit at least 3,654 petition signatures from Iowans who are eligible to vote. The candidate also needs to surpass the required threshold in at least 10 counties. The minimum requirement in Iowa’s largest counties includes 961 signatures in Polk County, 477 in Linn and 399 in Black Hawk.
The Branstad/Reynolds campaign delivered 10,745 signatures to the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday. They surpassed the necessary threshold in every county. The coordinated effort might be unprecedented in Iowa political history.
“We’ve always been people that believe that you don’t take any chances and you be sure that you’ve got more than an adequate number of signatures, but this time we’ve gotten more than the minimum requirement in all 99 counties. Four years ago, I think it was 84 counties that we had signatures in, so we’re feeling really good about it and very excited about the upcoming campaign,” Branstad told reporters.
“Our team is building the best grassroots organization in Iowa Republican history and these petition numbers demonstrated we are doing just said,” said Branstad campaign director Jake Ketzner. “From Lee County to Lyon County, the strength of our supporters can be felt in the thousands of precincts across the state.”
Branstad said a lot of the petitions came from the precinct caucuses in January, but grassroots volunteers supplied much of legwork in collecting the signatures from their neighbors and in local coffee shops.
“I’ve always felt that the way you win elections is you don’t take anything for granted and you work hard everywhere,” Branstad said. “Our goal is obviously to be effective and represent the entire state of Iowa and having this kind of grassroots organization in all 99 counties is a very encouraging sign.”
The Branstad campaign set the bar extremely high, turning in a massive amount of signatures on the second day of candidate filing. Likely Democrat nominee Jack Hatch has yet to submit his petitions. If he does not come close to 10,000 signatures or fails to surpass the minimum threshold in all 99 counties, it will reflect poorly on Hatch’s organization.
To qualify for the ballot, a Democrat nominee for governor needs to submit at least 4,113 signatures from eligible Iowans and surpass the threshold in at least 10 counties. The number is higher for Democrats because the requirement is based on the number of Iowa votes cast for the party’s presidential candidate in the 2012 general election. The total must equal at least 0.5% of those votes.
A new poll from the left-leaning PPP firm shows Branstad maintaining a 12-point lead over Hatch, 48-36. Governor Branstad shrugged off the poll with a common refrain he has used throughout the years.
“The only poll that counts is the one they take on Election Day,” Branstad said. “I’ve been through many of these campaigns and I’ve always focused on Election Day. I feel very confident with the organization that we’re putting together, with the record we have and then the vision that we’ll outline in the course of the campaign once the legislative session is over, I feel confident that we will have a very successful election.”
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