Terry Branstad

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Terry Branstad
Picture of Terry Branstad as the 42nd Governor of Iowa
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad speaking in Des Moines, Iowa on April 1, 2011
39th and 42nd Governor of Iowa
Assumed office
January 14, 2011
Lieutenant Kim Reynolds
Preceded by Chet Culver
In office
January 14, 1983 – January 15, 1999
Lieutenant Robert Anderson
Jo Ann Zimmerman
Joy Corning
Preceded by Robert Ray
Succeeded by Tom Vilsack
41st Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
In office
January 12, 1979 – January 14, 1983
Governor Robert Ray
Preceded by Arthur A. Neu
Succeeded by Robert Anderson
Personal details
Born Terry Edward Branstad
(1946-11-17) November 17, 1946 (age 68)
Leland, Iowa, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Christine Anne "Chris" (Johnson) Branstad[1]
Residence Terrace Hill (official)
Boone, Iowa (personal)
Alma mater University of Iowa
Drake University
Religion Roman Catholicism[2]
Awards Army Commendation Medal
Military service
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1969–1971
Unit 503rd Military Police Battalion

Terry Edward Branstad (born November 17, 1946) is an American politician who is the 42nd Governor of Iowa, in office since January 2011. Branstad was also the state's 39th Governor from 1983 to 1999, and he was President of Des Moines University from 2003 to 2009. He is a member of the Republican Party. Branstad is the longest-serving governor in Iowa history[3] and based on his victory in the 2014 elections, he may become the longest serving governor in US history as well, should he complete a year and several days of his sixth term in office.

In his 2010 political comeback, Branstad won a three-way primary election for the Republican nomination to run for governor in the general election. He faced incumbent Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat and four third party candidates on November 2, 2010.[4] He won the general election in November, defeating Culver by 52.9% to 43.1%.[5]

Branstad entered the 2010 race as the front runner for both the primary and general elections. Independent polling in 2009 indicated that his approval ratings hovered in the 70% range.[6] He was widely seen as the front runner for the Republican nomination, and had wide leads in aggregate polling against the sitting governor, Chet Culver.[7][8][9] He won the Republican primary with 50.4% of the popular vote, 9.5 percentage points ahead of his nearest competitor.

In the election on November 4, 2014, Branstad was elected to an unprecedented sixth four-year term as Iowa governor, which may make him the longest-serving governor in U.S. history in 2016 (breaking the record held by George Clinton of New York, who served 21 years from 1777 to 1795, and from 1801 to 1804).

Early life[edit]

Branstad was born in Leland, Iowa, to Rita L. (Garland) and Edward Arnold Branstad, a farmer.[10][11] His mother was Jewish, while his father was from a Norwegian American Lutheran family; Branstad himself was raised Lutheran, and later converted to Catholicism.[2][12] Branstad received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and his law degree from Drake University Law School.[13] After getting his undergraduate degree, he was drafted and served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971, serving as an military policeman in the 503rd Military Police Battalion at Fort Bragg,[14] and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service; he once recalled that he arrested actress Jane Fonda for coming onto post at Arlington National Cemetery, where she was planning to attend an anti-war protest.[15][16][17][18]

Early political career[edit]

Branstad served three terms in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979 and served as the 41st Lieutenant Governor of Iowa from 1979 to 1983, when he was elected Governor of Iowa.[13]

Governor of Iowa[edit]

First years (1983–1999)[edit]

Branstad attends the recommissioning ceremony for the USS Iowa, April 28, 1984.

When elected governor at age 36, Branstad was the youngest chief executive in Iowa's history and when he left office, he was Iowa's longest-serving governor. He served as Chair of the National Governors Association during 1989–1990, and also was Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association. In 1997, he chaired the Education Commission of the States, the Republican Governors Association, and the Governors' Ethanol Coalition.

In 1983, he vetoed a bill that would allow a state lottery.[19] In 1991, Branstad ignored binding arbitration with employees of the State of Iowa's labor unions by vetoing a salary bill, was taken to court, and lost later in appeals in the state court system (AFSCME Iowa Council 61 et al., v. Branstad).

Iowa’s unemployment rate went from 8.5% when he took office to a record low 2.5% by the time he left office in 1999. In his first year as governor, the state budget had a $90 million deficit.[20] It took several years until the budget was balanced. He claimed that he did not have enough support in the legislature to approve budget reforms until 1992. By 1999, Iowa had an unprecedented $900 million budget surplus.[21][22]

Intra-gubernatorial career[edit]

Branstad focused most of his efforts on endeavors outside of politics when he left office in early-1999. He founded Branstad and Associates, LLC and was also a partner in the firm of Kaufman, Pattee, Branstad & Miller, and a financial advisor for Robert W. Baird and Co.

In August 2003, Branstad accepted an offer from Des Moines University[23] to become its president. On October 16, 2009, he announced his retirement from Des Moines University in order to run again for governor.[24]

Branstad was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the President's Commission for Excellence in Special Education.[25] The commission was charged with developing a plan to improve the educational performance of students with disabilities. After completing his work with the commission in 2003, he was asked to serve as a member of the National Advisory Council for Positive Action for Teen Health, or PATH. The advisory council encourages action toward detecting adolescent mental illness. In April 2003, he was named to serve as a public member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which comprises both professional and public members who address such issues as student recruitment and professional ethics for CPAs.[citation needed]

Branstad serves on the boards of, among others, Conmed Health Management Inc[dead link], American Future Fund, the Iowa Health System, Liberty Bank, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants,[26] and Living History Farms.

Second years (2011-present)[edit]

2010 gubernatorial election[edit]

Branstad's 2010 campaign logo

On August 2, 2009, the Des Moines Register reported that Branstad was actively considering running for the Republican nomination for governor. On October 7, 2009, Branstad filed papers to run for governor in the 2010 election.[27] According to a poll conducted in September 2009 by The Des Moines Register, he maintained a 70% favorability rating from Iowans compared to Governor Chet Culver's rating of 50%.[28]

On June 8, 2010, Branstad won the Republican gubernatorial nomination,[29] but when opposing candidate Bob Vander Plaats conceded, he did not endorse Branstad.[30]

The Des Moines Tea Party gave Branstad a "no" on their report card on "criteria for acceptance" and said Branstad had "a history of raising taxes, [was] not a true conservative, and increased the size of government every year he held office, [and] built a state-owned phone company."[31][32][33][34] Branstad was accused by former Iowa State Auditor Richard Johnson of keeping "two sets of books" on the state budget when he was governor. Johnson said Branstad needed to be "transparent" to Iowa voters about the reporting of Iowa's finances during his tenure as governor.[35]

2014 gubernatorial election[edit]

Branstad ran for reelection in 2014. He was opposed in the Republican primary by political activist and America's Party and American Independent Party nominee for President in 2012 Tom Hoefling.[36] Branstad won the primary with 83% of the vote.

For the general election, Branstad faced Democratic nominee State Senator Jack Hatch and won the election with 59% of the vote.


Job creation ranking[edit]

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals looking at 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation record, Branstad was ranked number 28. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Allegations of scandal in Branstad administration[edit]

In Spring 2014, a string of scandals inside the Branstad administration caused a steep downturn in Branstad's job approval and trust rating among Iowa voters. In a short space of time, Branstad was accused of using his office to commit or facilitate a variety of crimes and improprieties, such as: the wrongful firing of a state trooper who nabbed the governor for speeding, crooked dealings of a state judge, abuse in an Iowa juvenile home and giving hush-payments to fired state employees claiming to be victims of political revenge. Amid the resulting storm of bad press directed at Branstad and his office, the governor maintained a policy of denying knowledge or involvement in these alleged transgressions. According to an April 22 Public Policy Poll for Progress Iowa, 83% of Iowa voters said they were either somewhat or very aware of the scandals and 56% indicated they were unconvinced by Branstad's official line of denial. In addition, 30% of respondents said they think Branstad should resign, with 36% believing he should stay and 34% responding "Not sure." Besides casting voters' doubt on Branstad's honesty and integrity, these allegations have cost the jobs of numerous state department leaders, including the firing of Iowa's administrative department head, and prompted state lawmakers to call for an independent investigation, as of the poll's publication date.

Appointment of son to state commission[edit]

On March 1, 2013, Branstad appointed his son to the state Natural Resources Commission. Branstad named his 29 year old son, Marcus Branstad, a lifelong outdoor sportsman and “advocate for Iowa’s hunting, fishing and wildlife,” to the seven member, partisan-balanced, panel of unpaid individuals charged with handling “contested cases related to fish, wildlife, conservation law enforcement, and park and forestry programs.”

Branstad said that he had preemptively cleared the choice with Senate Majority leader Michael Gronstal. Nonetheless, Iowa State Senator Jeff Danielson (D), the chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, predicted that the appointments would face some resistance in the Democrat-controlled State Senate. Greg Drees, one of the two commissioners who lost their seats on the board in 2013, did not conceal his disappointment at being replaced by Marcus Branstad, speculating to a reporter from The Des Moines Register, that “You would think a guy would get notice after serving six years...And he appoints his son. Isn’t that interesting?” The Iowa Senate ultimately confirmed Branstad's appointment to the commission on April 8, 2013.

Possibility to appoint entire Iowa Supreme Court after 2016[edit]

In the first half of his fifth nonconsecutive gubernatorial term, Branstad appointed three Justices to the Iowa Supreme Court. Under the current judicial selection system, supreme court hopefuls submit applications to the State Judicial Nominating Commission, "a panel of licensed attorneys elected by lawyers and lay members appointed by the governor and all confirmed by the Iowa Senate," created by constitutional amendment in 1962. The Commission members, who serve concurrent rather than staggered terms as a result of the 2010 redistricting process, reviews the applications for judicial vacancies and presents three finalists to the governor, who in turn chooses one to appoint to the state Supreme Court. Following Branstad's return to office, people began speculating about how he could end up appointing the entire Supreme Court. The uncommon - likely unprecedented - plausibility of this outcome relied on various institutional factors, such as the new contemporaneous terms of commissioners, as well as hypothetical factors. These included Branstad's election to a record-breaking sixth-term in 2014 and Supreme Court Justice and Iowa voters ousting Justice David Wiggins in the 2012 general election. Wiggins ultimately won his retention vote in November 2012; Had he lost, Branstad, with the help of the State Judicial Nominating Commission, would have appointed a replacement, leaving only three justices on the panel not appointed by Branstad. All three, including the Chief Justice Mark Cady, were involved in the unanimous 2009 same-sex marriage legalization ruling, for which displeased voters fired three Justices in 2010, making them seem vulnerable to losing their 2016 retention votes. Even if the three Justices leftover from the 2009 ruling were voted off the bench and Branstad were to win in 2014, Wiggins' 2012 upset effectively removed the possibility Branstad would "become the first governor in history to appoint the entire Iowa Supreme Court," for at least another four-year term.

Dismissing concerns this could lend the governor too much influence over the Supreme Court and threaten the nonpartisan credibility of the judicial, a former Republican lawmaker and Branstad staffer asserted that "the filtration process... really minimizes the potential danger of one governor appointing all the justices,” alluding to the State Judicial Nominating Commission's check on the governor's authority to exercise excessive bias in his appointments. “I think our merit selection system insulates the system from that concern or at least helps to assure that that should not be a cause for alarm,” agreed Iowa State Bar Association President Cynthia Moser, although Iowa State Bar Association officials pointed out the potential vulnerabilities facing the merit-based selection system in the wake of the 2010 commission term rule changes, under which Branstad could appoint half of the panel's new members.[24]

Veto found unconstitutional[edit]

Polk County District Court Judge Brad McCall ruled on December 8, 2011 that Branstad's line-item veto that closed 36 unemployment offices was unconstitutional. Branstad called the case a key test of gubernatorial authority and expressed confidence that the state Supreme Court would uphold the veto.

At a news conference On December 12, Branstad stated, "It's really more of a question of precedent and the power of the governor to control spending through the item veto process. This is an important case because it is going to determine for the future and for future governors their ability to control spending and provide the best and most efficient services to the people of Iowa."

The case began in July 2011 when Branstad vetoed portions of a budget bill that would have prohibited closure of the offices. In taking the action, the governor stated that allowing the legislation to proceed would have hurt the ability of the Iowa Workforce Development Department from creating a more efficient system for helping the unemployed.

The AFSCME and five state representatives filed suit in August, arguing the veto was unconstitutional as it redirected the money. Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal stated, "You can't reject the purpose for the spending, but keep the money, which is exactly what he did."[25] The court agreed, stating the allocation would have to be vetoed as well in order for the action to be legal.

Branstad said they would ask for a stay of the district court's decision and an expedited review by the state Supreme Court.

Personal life[edit]

Terry Branstad married Christine in 1972. The couple has three children and as of 2014 four grandchildren. They are both Catholic after Terry converted from Lutheranism before marriage.[2] Christine has worked as a medical assistant and as a volunteer at schools and hospitals.[37]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1982 election for Governor of Iowa:
1982 General Election:[38]
  • 1986 election for Governor of Iowa:
1986 General Election:[39]
  • Terry Branstad (R), 51.9%
  • Lowell Junkins (D), 48.0%
  • 1990 election for Governor of Iowa:
1990 General Election:[40]
  • Terry Branstad (R), 60.6%
  • Donald Avenson (D), 38.8%
Republican Primary [41]
1994 General Election:[42]
Republican Primary [43]
2010 General Election:[5]
2014 General Election:[44]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c Lucey, Catherine (June 7, 2013). "Terry Branstad May Need To Approve Medicaid Abortion Funding". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Branstad's stand questioned". Omaha.com. 2009-12-06. Archived from the original on Dec 8, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  4. ^ "2010 Official Canvass by County - Governor" (PDF). Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Nov 29, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Iowa Election Results 2010". New York Times. Retrieved Oct 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Culver rating slips; poll gives Branstad positive signs". Des Moines Register. 2009-09-19. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  7. ^ "Politics Nation". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  8. ^ Beaumont, Thomas (February 13, 2010). "Iowa Poll: Culver rating falls, even among base". The Des Moines Register. Gannett Company. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  9. ^ Slevin, Peter (March 8, 2010). "Iowa governor faces tough reelection as another state sours on incumbents". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/10/20/how-old-is-terry-branstad/
  11. ^ https://governor.iowa.gov/2013/07/edward-branstad-1924-2013/
  12. ^ http://carrollspaper.com/Content/Local-News-Archive/Politics/Article/Gov-Knocking-down-commercial-property-tax-a-priority-in-2012/1/335/13023
  13. ^ a b "Governor Terry E. Branstad (IA)". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved January 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ http://whotv.com/2013/11/11/veterans-day-honoring-our-heroes/
  15. ^ "Gov. Terry Branstad". Togovern.com. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Executive Branch Elected Officials" (PDF). Iowa Official Register. Government of Iowa. p. 3. Retrieved November 2, 2013. [...] Served in the United States Army as a military policeman 1969-1971, earning rank as Sergeant E-5. [...] 
  17. ^ "1983-1999, 2011- Terry Branstad". Iowa Heritage Digital Collections. State Library of Iowa. Retrieved November 2, 2013. [...] Following two years in the U.S. Army, where he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Branstad earned his J.D. degree from the Drake University Law School. [...] 
  18. ^ "Terry Branstad (R) > Background". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). July 23, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2013. [...] After college, Branstad served in the Army for two years and received the Army Commendation Medal. [...] 
  19. ^ "The Daily Reporter". News.google.com. 1983-06-01. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  20. ^ "The Daily Reporter - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  21. ^ "About the Governor ★ Governor Branstad". Governor.iowa.gov. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  22. ^ "Fact Check: Culver and Branstad turn hostile over budget records". Iowa Independent. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  23. ^ "President Angela Franklin". Dmu.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  24. ^ "Des Moines University President Terry Branstad retires - DMU News & Events". Dmu.edu. 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  25. ^ "Archived: Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa -- Chair of the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education". President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education. United States Department of Education. December 13, 2001. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  26. ^ "2009-2010 AICPA Board of Directors". Aicpa.org. 2006-09-18. Retrieved 2010-08-29. [dead link]
  27. ^ "Branstad Files Paperwork for Gubernatorial Run". Theiowarepublican.com. 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  28. ^ Beaumont, Thomas (September 19, 2009). "Culver rating slips; poll gives Branstad positive signs". Des Moines Register. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Republicans Nominate Branstad for Iowa Governor". KCRG.com. June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  30. ^ "The new Vander Plaats question: Will he back Branstad?", blog post by Reid Forgrave, The Des Moines Register, June 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  31. ^ Obradovich, Kathie (June 2, 2010). "DM Tea Party scorecard: ‘No’ to Branstad, Roberts". Des Moines Register. Gannett Company. Retrieved November 2, 2013. [...] About Branstad, the group says, among other things, 'History of raising taxes, not a true conservative, increased the size of government each year he held office, built a state-owned phone company.' [...] 
  32. ^ "Des Moines Tea Party's Candidate Report Card" (PDF). Des Moines Register. Gannett Company. June 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Des Moines Tea Party Credibility Questioned Following Candidate Report Card". Theiowarepublican.com. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  34. ^ "Home - The Des Moines Tea Party". The Des Moines Tea Party. April 15, 2009. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  35. ^ Clayworth, Jason (June 12, 2010). "Accounting controversy still dogs Branstad" (Abstract). The Des Moines Register. Des Moines, Iowa: Gannett Company. p. A.1. Archived from the original on 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  36. ^ "HAYWORTH: Republican Hoefling aiming to challenge Branstad in 2014". Sioux City Journal. March 4, 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
  37. ^ Christine Branstad (Iowa) Archived from the original on November 9, 2014
  38. ^ "Election Results > US Gubernatorial Elections, 1982 statistics - states compared - StateMaster". www.statemaster.com. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  39. ^ "Iowa Legislature Heritage : Compound Object Viewer". contentdm.legis.state.ia.us. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  40. ^ "1990 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Iowa". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  41. ^ "Iowa Legislature Heritage : Compound Object Viewer". contentdm.legis.state.ia.us. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  42. ^ "1994 Gubernatorial General Election Results - Iowa". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  43. ^ "Iowa Primary Election Results 2010". The Des Moines Register. Gannett Company. Retrieved 2010-06-09. [dead link]
  44. ^ "Terry Branstad re-elected to historic sixth term". desmoinesregister.com. Retrieved 2014-11-06. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Arthur A. Neu
Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Robert Anderson
Preceded by
Robert Ray
Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Tom Vilsack
Preceded by
Gerald Baliles
Chairperson of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Booth Gardner
Preceded by
Chet Culver
Governor of Iowa
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert Ray
Republican nominee for Governor of Iowa
1982, 1986, 1990, 1994
Succeeded by
Jim Lightfoot
Preceded by
Jim Nussle
Republican nominee for Governor of Iowa
2010, 2014
Most recent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
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Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Iowa
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Mayor of city
in which event is held
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Otherwise John Boehner
as Speaker of the House of Representatives
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Greg Abbott
as Governor of Texas
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Iowa
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Scott Walker
as Governor of Wisconsin