Branstad campaign unofficial but opening office

DES MOINES – It’s widely expected that Gov. Terry Branstad will seek another term next year but he remained coy about it Monday indicating a formal announcement won’t come until next year.

He and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a staff, and beginning this weekend they’ll even have a campaign office.

Anyone looking at their online sites would swear there’s a campaign underway.

Their Facebook page, with more than 4,300 “likes” says the “Branstad Committee is laying the groundwork for 2014.”

It includes an invitation to one and all to attend the grand opening of the “Republican Victory 2014 Office” at 5 p.m. Saturday in Urbandale. The event will also feature U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman.

“We’re going to wait until election year, that’s 2014,” Branstad said at his weekly meeting with reporters on Monday. “I’m really focused on my job as governor.”

He acknowledged the good team he has assembled that is committed “to putting the groundwork in place in the event we decide to blow the whistle in 2014 and go forward.”

Branstad, 66, is serving his fifth term as governor. His first four terms ran between 1983 and 1999. He left public office and ran Des Moines University until 2009 when he decided to run against one-term Democratic incumbent Chet Culver. He won and took office in his fifth term in January 2011.

There’s little doubt the governor, who has a strong approval ratings, will run for a sixth term.

His supporters already are saying he’d be difficult to beat because he can run as a governor who can get things accomplished in a time when politics has left Congress and the Legislature locked in partisan battles.

Jimmy Centers, the spokesman for the governor’s campaign committee promotes the successes of the legislative session that ended in May in which Branstad signed the largest tax cut in Iowa history and shepherded through the Legislature transformational education reform. Centers also credits Branstad with a state employment rate that is better than many others.

While Branstad declines to openly talk about a re-election campaign, others are more than willing to declare their intentions.

State Sen. Jack Hatch, 63, a Des Moines Democrat announced his candidacy last Monday pledging to boost the minimum wage, make college more affordable and continue expanding access to health care.

Democratic state Rep. Tyler Olson, 37, of Cedar Rapids is exploring a campaign to run against Hatch in the Democratic primary.

He’s portraying himself as the fresh new face.

Even a leader in Branstad’s own Republican party, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, is proclaiming himself a candidate for re-election to his seventh term.

Grassley, 80, apparently is planning way ahead since his term isn’t up until 2016.

He told the public television program “Iowa Press,” on Friday that he’s making plans for a re-election campaign but it’s not taking up much of time.