Gov. Branstad announces bid for unprecedented sixth term

DES MOINES – With millions in the bank, solid approval ratings and a record of tax cuts and employment gains, long-serving Gov. Terry Branstad was in an enviable position as he announced Wednesday night that he will run for re-election.

The Republican governor declared his plans to seek an unprecedented sixth term before about 200 supporters in a conference center in West Des Moines. Branstad is already the nation’s longest-serving state governor and the race is undoubtedly his to lose.

“It has been an honor to serve as your governor, but there is much more to be done,” Branstad said during a brief speech. “I am energized. I am encouraged to dream bigger. I pledge to you that I will work hard always.”

Branstad, 67, has been laying the groundwork for a race since last summer. He announced last week that he had just over $4 million in his campaign account at the end of December. During his annual “Condition of the State” speech Tuesday, he boasted about tax cuts, education investments and a decline in unemployment.

“He’s in the strongest position I can ever remember,” said longtime Branstad adviser Doug Gross.

First elected governor in 1982, Branstad is far and away Iowa’s longest-serving chief executive, and one of only two to serve, retire and serve again. He served four terms in office before leaving in early 1999. Branstad then worked in the private sector, including as president of Des Moines University before announcing in 2009 plans to run again. He handily beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and returned to his Capitol office in 2011.

“Four years ago I came back to lead the Iowa comeback and we’ve done it,” Branstad said Wednesday night.