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Republican incumbent Terry Branstad is running for re-election to a sixth non-consecutive term as governor in 2014. Branstad first held the office from 1983 to 1999, and emerged after years of political retirement to reclaim the office in the 2010 gubernatorial election, becoming Iowa's longest serving governor as well as the longest serving governor in U.S. History.[1] Branstad will face Tom Hoefling in the GOP primary election on June 3, 2014. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is also seeking re-election in 2014. This will be her second time sharing a ticket with Branstad.[2]

Before Branstad formally launched his campaign, polls showed him in excellent standing for winning re-election, with an average lead of 20 percentage points in hypothetical general election match-ups.[3] Branstad had looked considerably less secure around the time ex-Democratic challenger Tyler Olson entered the race back in July 2013, with only 43% of polled voters saying they believed the governor deserved to be re-elected and 54% answering that he has held office long enough, even though 51% approved of his performance. December's numbers from Quinnipiac University gave him a boost of eight percentage points in both approval and "deserves to be re-elected" categories.[4][5] As of mid-March, polls continue to show Branstad sitting comfortably at 63% job approval and Hatch trailing behind by 15 percentage points.[6]

Democratic State Rep. Tyler Olson declared his candidacy for governor in July 2013 and was considered a strong contender for the party's nomination before withdrawing from the race in December of that year.[7] He decided to drop out following the announcement of his separation from wife Sarah Olson, who had been an instrumental part of his family-oriented campaign.[8][9] Olson's withdrawal was followed soon thereafter by former state Sen. Bob Krause's announcement he was shutting down his campaign. Their absences cleared the path for remaining Democratic hopeful Jack Hatch to take on Branstad, the presumptive Republican nominee, in the general election. Krause immediately gave Hatch his support, while Olson noticeably declined to endorse Hatch upon dropping out of the race.[7][10]

The major party nominees will appear on the November general election ballot along with Libertarian candidate Lee Hieb.[11]