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Terry E. Branstad
Terry Branstad.jpg
Governor of Iowa
In office
1983-1999, January 14, 2011 - Present
Term ends
January 13, 2015
Years in position (current service)4
Years in position (previous service)16
PredecessorChet Culver
Co-chair, Council of Governors
Base salary$130,000
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$9,831,020
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
Iowa House of Representatives
Bachelor'sUniversity of Iowa (1969)
J.D.Drake University School of Law (1974)
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1969-1971
CitationsArmy Commendation Medal
Date of birthNovember 17, 1946
Place of birthLeland, Iowa
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Terry E. Branstad (b. November 17, 1946, Leland, Iowa) is the 42nd and current Governor of Iowa. A Republican, Branstad previously served as the 39th governor from 1983 to 1999, and came out of political retirement to win the 2010 gubernatorial election, becoming the state's longest serving governor as well as the longest serving governor in U.S. History.[1] During the interim he served as president of Des Moines University.[2]

Branstad won a three-way primary to secure the Republican nomination in 2010, taking just over 50 percent of the vote to defeat Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts.[3] He went on to defeat incumbent Democrat Chet Culver and three third party candidates on November 2, 2010. Culver's loss made him the first Iowa incumbent governor to lose election since 1962.[4]

Branstad served as Lieutenant Governor from 1979 to 1983 and in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979.

Branstad has not yet declared that he will run for re-election in 2014, despite all visible signs - raising money, assembling campaign staff and accepting endorsements - in preparation to launch a bid. He has said that an announcement is not likely to arrive before 2014. About whether he will seek another term, Branstad stated "I love what I'm doing. So that should be an indication."[5][6]

An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Branstad as the 6th most conservative governor in the country.[7] Branstad is a member of the executive committee of the National Governor's Association. He, along with eight other governors, will determine the association's priorities and actions for the year. He was named to this leadership role in August, 2013.[8]


Branstad is an Iowa native, originally deriving form Norwegian ancestry. He studied at the Unveristy of Iowa and at Drake University, finishing his law degree in 1974. In between his undergraduate and graduate schooling, Branstad joined the Army and served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971, earning the Army Commendation Medal.

Following three terms in Iowa's House of Representatives, Branstad was elected Lt. Governor in 1978. In the following election cycle, he won the governorship. 36 at the time he entered the governor's office, he holds the distinction of being Iowa's youngest chief executive. Branstad's first stint as governor, covering four terms from 1983 to 1999, makes him Iowa's longest serving governor.[9]

In 1991, he earned the perpetual animosity of organized labor when he vetoed a salary bill for labor unions in spite of binding arbitration. The union sued and eventually won, in AFSCME Iowa Council 61 et al., v. Branstad. Beginning in 2003, Branstad spent slightly over six years as President of Des Moines University, boosting the school's graduate ranking and seeing DMU become the Wellness Council of America's first Platinum Recognition university.

He also founded the law firm of Branstad and Associates, L.L.C and additionally accepted a partnership in Kaufman, Patee, Branstad & Miller. Simultaneously, Branstad served as financial adviser to Robert W. Baird and Co., Inc. and was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa. His appointment as Des Moines University's leader came after President George W. Bush named him head of the President's Commission for Excellence in Special Education.[10]

He retired from DMU in October of 2009 to launch a gubernatorial exploratory committee and officially entered the race in January of 2010.


  • BA, University of Iowa (1969)
  • JD, Drake University School of Law (1974)

Political career

Branstad during his first term as governor, 1984.

Governor of Iowa (1983-1999, 2011-present)

Branstad was first elected governor in November, 1982. From 1983-1999, he was the state's longest serving chief executive officer. He retired after 1999 only to re-emerge in 2010 and run for a fifth term. He was elected and sworn in in January of 2011.[10]

Branstad serves as co-chairman the the Council of Governors, a group of five Republican and five Democratic governors assembled for the purpose of liaising with federal government officials about the National Guard and homeland security issues. Branstad was first appointed to the leadership role in March 2011 and re-appointed by President Obama on February 21, 2013. The current Democratic co-chair is Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.[11][12]


Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals which ranked 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.[13][14]

2012 presidential election

In May 2011, Gov. Branstad offered heaping praise for U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan for his ideas to tackle the country’s mushrooming national debt.

“I have been very impressed with this young man,” Branstad said. “I think he has great courage. Nobody of either party has had the guts to stand up and say, ‘We need to take on entitlements’ … I think this is the first real effort to do something significant about it.”

Branstad sharply criticized Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, President Barack Obama and U.S. Senate Democrats for playing politics with the issue and attacking Ryan for his plan. Ryan's plan included turning Medicare into a voucher program, rather than offering alternatives.[15]

Presidential preference


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Terry E. Branstad endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. [16]


Appointment of son to state commission

On March 1, 2013, Branstad appointed his son to the state Natural Resources Commission.[17] 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.”[18]

Branstad said that he had preemptively cleared the choice with Senate Majority leader Michael Gronstal. Nonetheless, Iowa Sen. 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.[19] 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?”[19] The Iowa Senate ultimately confirmed Branstad's appointment to the commission on April 8, 2013.[20]

Possibility to appoint entire Iowa Supreme Court after 2016

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.[21] 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.[21] 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.[21]

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.[21]

Veto found unconstitutional

Polk 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."[22]

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.[23]

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 (D) stated, "You can't reject the purpose for the spending, but keep the money, which is exactly what he did."[22] The court agreed, stating the allocation would have to be vetoed as well in order for the action to be legal.[24]

Branstad said they would ask for a stay of the district court's decision and an expedited review by the state Supreme Court.[25]

Iowa Lieutenant Governor (1979-1983)

At the end of this third term in the state House, Branstad decided to run for executive office. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Iowa in 1978.[10]

Iowa State House of Representatives (1973-1979)

Branstad was first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1972. He was subsequently re-elected in 1974 and 1976. [10]



See also: Iowa gubernatorial election, 2014

While he does not plan to declare his candidacy until 2014, it is likely that Branstad ran for re-election.[26][5]

If and when he formally enters the race, Branstad will seek the Republican nomination in the primary on June 3, 2014 alongside running-mate and current Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. The general election took place November 4, 2014.

Incumbent standing before re-election

Before Branstad formally launched his campaign, polls showed him in excellent standing for re-election, with an average lead of 20 percentage points in hypothetical general election match-ups.[27] Branstad had looked considerably less secure around the time ex-Democratic challenger Tyler Olson entered the race in July 2013, with only 43 percent of polled voters saying they believed the governor deserved to be re-elected and 54 percent answering that he held office long enough, even though 51 percent approved of his performance. A December 2013 poll by Quinnipiac University gave him a boost of 8 percent in both approval and "deserves to be re-elected" categories.[28][29] By mid-March 2014, polls continued to show Branstad sitting comfortably at 63 percent job approval and Hatch trailing behind by 15 points.[30]

Candidate withdrawals

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 2013.[31] 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.[32][33] 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 face Branstad in the general election. Krause immediately gave Hatch his support, while Olson declined to endorse Hatch upon dropping out of the race.[31][34] General election
Polls in October 2014

Governor of Iowa: Branstad v. Hatch
Poll Terry Branstad* (R) Jack Hatch (D)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
NBC News/Marist
October 2014
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
October 16-23, 2014
AVERAGES 54% 36.5% 9.5% +/-2.9 1,778.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Polls through September 2014

Governor of Iowa: Branstad vs. Hatch
Poll Terry Branstad* (R) Jack Hatch (D)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Quinnipiac University Poll
(December 10-15, 2013)
Selzer & Company/The Des Moines Register Poll
(December 8-11, 2013)
Quinnipiac University Poll
(March 5-10, 2014)
(April 3-8, 2014)
Public Policy Poll/Progress Iowa*
(April 19-20, 2014)
Public Policy Poll/Progress Iowa Continued*
(April 19-20, 2014)
Vox Populi/Daily Caller Poll
(April 22-24, 2014)
Hickman Analytics Poll
(April 24-30, 2014)
Global Strategy Group
(May 13-15, 2014)
Public Policy Poll
(May 15-19, 2014)
Vox Populi Polling
(June 4-5, 2014)
(June 4-5, 2014)
Quinnipiac University Poll
(June 12-16, 2014)
NBC News/Marist Poll
(July 16, 2014)
Loras College Poll
(September 2-5, 2014)
AVERAGES 47.9% 37.3% 14.2% +/-3.43 929.4
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

*The April 19-20 Progress Iowa poll is displayed above as two separate polls to delineate responses registered before and after respondents were provided information on recent scandals effecting the administration of Gov. Branstad.

Hypothetical match-ups

Governor of Iowa: Branstad vs. Krause
Poll Terry Branstad* (R) Bob Olson (D)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Quinnipiac University Poll
(December 10-15, 2013)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to
Governor of Iowa: Branstad vs. Olson
Poll Terry Branstad* (R) Tyler Olson (D)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
Quinnipiac University Poll
(December 10-15, 2013)
Selzer & Company/The Des Moines Register Poll
(December 8-11, 2013)
AVERAGES 50.5% 30% 19.5% +/-3.1 1,133.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes incumbent status.


See also: Iowa gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010

Branstad defeated Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts in the June 8 primary, winning with 50.33% of the vote.

Branstad faced incumbent Chet Culver (D), Jonathan Narcisse (Iowa Party), Eric Cooper (L), and Dave Rosenfeld (SW) in the general election on November 2, 2010.

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Brandstad is available dating back to 1998. Based on available campaign finance records, Brandstad raised a total of $9,831,020 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 10, 2013.[35]

Terry E. Branstad's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Iowa Not up for election $898,390
2010 Governor of Iowa Won $8,896,196
1998 Governor of Iowa Not up for election $36,434
Grand Total Raised $9,831,020


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Terry Branstad's donors each year.[36] Click [show] for more information.


Terry and Chris Branstad have three grown children and four grandchildren.[10]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Terry + Branstad + Iowa + Governor"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Terry Branstad News Feed

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See also

External links

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  1. Smart Politics, "The Top 50 Longest-Serving Governors of All Time," April 10, 2013
  2. National Governors Association, "Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad," Accessed April 6, 2013
  3. The Iowa Republican, "Branstad Wins Republican Primary," June 8, 2010
  4. Washington Post, "GOP ex-Gov. Branstad wins Iowa governor race," November 2, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Branstad and Reynolds 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 7, 2013
  6. KCCI, "Branstad may run in 2014," November 29, 2013
  7. New York Times, "In State Governments, Signs of a Healthier G.O.P.," April 16, 2013
  8. National Governor's Association, NGA Announces New Executive Committee Leadership, August 4, 2013
  9. Project Vote Smart, "Governor Terry E. Branstad's Biography," accessed July 31, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Office of the Governor of Iowa Terry Branstad, "About the Governor," accessed October 27, 2012
  11. WBAL, "President Obama Appoints Governor O'Malley To New Position," February 25, 2013
  12. The Des Moines Register, "Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will continue to lead national council of governors," February 21, 2013
  13. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  14. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  15. "Branstad: Impressed with Ryan; says Gingrich made a mistake," By Lynn Campbell,, May 23, 2011
  16. The Hill, "Iowa Gov. Branstad endorses Romney after criticizing his Iowa campaign," April 10, 2012
  17. ‘’Iowa City Patch, “Patch Poll: Was Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s appointment of son to state board appropriate?,” March 2, 2013
  18. ‘’The Des Moines Register, “Branstad nominates son to Iowa Agency,” March 2, 2013
  19. 19.0 19.1 ‘’The Des Moines Register, “Branstad defends appointment of son to resource panel,” March 4, 2013
  20. The DesMoines Register, "Governor's son, Marcus Branstad, confirmed by Iowa Senate to natural resources post," April 15, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Quad-City Times, "Branstad has chance of being 1st governor to appoint all 7 Supreme Court justices," October 27, 2012
  22. 22.0 22.1 BusinessWeek, "Iowa Gov: Workforce Development veto will prevail," December 12, 2011
  23. Des Moines Register, "Branstad unemployment office veto unconstitutional, judge says," December 8, 2011
  24. KCCI, "Court Rules In IWD Office Closing Lawsuit," December 8, 2011
  25. Chicago Tribune, "Branstad: Workforce Development veto will prevail," December 12, 2011
  26. WHOTV Des Moines, "CULVER PLANS: Former Governor Considers Future," December 2, 2012
  27. The Des Moines-Register, "Iowa Poll: Iowans widely approve of state's direction, Branstad's performance," December 16, 2013
  28. Quinnipiac University, Iowa Voters Like Gov. Branstad, But Say It's Time To Go, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Possible 2014 Challengers Are Largely Unknown, July 19, 2013
  29. Quinnipiac University Poll, "December 17, 2013 - Iowa Gov's Approval, Re-election Prospects Improve, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Christie Tops Clinton By 5 Points In 2016 Race," December 17, 2013
  30. Des Moines Register, "Iowa Poll: Support for Branstad up; Hatch sees little progress," March 8, 2014
  31. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named withdrew
  32. Tyler Olson for Governor 2014, "Homepage," accessed July 11, 2013
  33. The Des Moines-Register, "Iowa Poll: Iowans widely approve of state's direction, Branstad's performance," December 16, 2013
  34. The Des Moines-Register, "Krause ends bid for governor, endorses fellow Democrat Hatch," January 2, 2013
  35. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Terry Branstad," accessed July 10, 2013
  36. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Chet Culver (D)
Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Robert D. Ray
Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Tom Vilsack