2014 Iowa Governor’s Race: A Chet Culver–Terry Branstad Rematch?


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Culver-Thumbs-UpIt’s hard to believe we are discussing the 2014 Iowa Gubernatorial race as it’s just two years out.  James Lynch at The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that former Governor Chet Culver (D-IA) is not ruling out a rematch against Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA).  I have to wonder what will be the hallmark of his campaign.

Would it be the fiscal mismanagement and all of the I-JOBS money that was wasted?  Could it be his incompetency in leading the executive branch?  Perhaps the fact he pulled the plug on the most successful program running in Iowa’s prisons, InnerChange Freedom Initiative, after they won their court case and said they would continue without taxpayer money?  That was a winner of a decision.  Maybe his broken promise to help defend traditional marriage after the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 decision.  I could go on and on because I see little that he could possibly run on.

Lynch found something though: “He’ll remind Iowans that during the Culver administration the minimum wage was increased, smoking was banned in nearly all workplaces, preschool opportunities were expanded and more children received health care coverage.”

So during an economic downturn he forced businesses to pay more for their entry-level positions – brilliant!  And the smoking ban!  Oh yes small businesses loved that one, especially when it wasn’t equally applied.  Casinos still allow smoking.  Regarding children receiving health care coverage.  That had nothing to do with Culver, that was due to the Federal SCHIP program that was passed in 2008.

During the 2012 election he was a surrogate for President Obama in five different states.  He said he’s enjoying being back on the campaign trail and that it was “the fun part of politics.”  Like President Obama, Governor Culver doesn’t seem to understand that campaigning isn’t the same as governing.  Both excel at campaigning neither governs well.

Tim Albrecht, Governor Branstad’s communications director,  offers the contrast that would present itself should Chet Culver decide to run.  “Gov. Culver’s years of deficit spending and higher unemployment versus Gov. Branstad’s consistent balancing of Iowa’s budget, coupled with Iowa’s lowest unemployment rate in four years, is a rigorous debate that would give Iowans a clear choice.”

But will Chet Culver really desire to leave the helm of The Culver Group a consulting firm he launched when not being able to find a job in the economy that existed after his first term?  (I can relate)  Hard to say.  Candidates have until March 14, 2014 to decide.

Other names being floated out there as potential Democratic challengers to Governor Branstad by Louis Jacobson of Governing:  Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs), State Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), State Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines), State Senator Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls), State Representative Tyler Olsen (D-Cedar Rapids) and John Norris (former Iowa Democratic operative, now with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).  Lynch also mentions former Governor, now U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack or his wife Christie Vilsack who was destroyed in her Congressional bid against Congressman Steve King.

Of those names I only see Gronstal and Secretary Vilsack as having the name recognition to run against a five-term incumbent.  Christie Vilsack’s political career while perhaps not over wasn’t able to demonstrate that she was ready to run for statewide office or actually have a handle on the issues.

It will be interesting to see what 2014 brings.  On the GOP side I’m pretty certain that Governor Branstad will have a primary challenge as well, which will probably fail, but it is likely to happen.  This all depends on whether Governor Branstad will run for reelection and based on his campaign fundraising success of late I think that’s pretty certain as well.

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  • justshootmenow

    Oh, yeah, just what we need, that lump, Culver again. We were punished enough.

  • talldrinkavino

    is it really a rematch if there was no contest the first time?