Terry-Branstad-250x300 Which I think is pretty much a foregone conclusion.  It isn’t official, but I don’t think he would have taken this step if he doesn’t plan to run.  The Des Moines Register reports that that former Governor Terry Branstad has filed to create a campaign committee.  Will he be a slam dunk for a nomination?  Some think so.

"He becomes the inevitable nominee," said Roger Hughes, a Webster City Republican and longtime campaign strategist who said he is leaning toward supporting Branstad in the primary. "The disparity in money becomes astronomical."

Roughly half of Iowans say it is a good idea for Branstad to run, according to The Des Moines Register’s September Iowa Poll. Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat elected in 2006, is planning to seek re-election.

Another Republican operative thinks that he’s a shoo-in:

Longtime Republican operative Bob Haus thinks that Branstad will have no trouble getting through the Republican primary field. Haus told TheIowaRepublican.com, “I saw Governor Branstad Saturday night at an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Pope’s visit to Iowa. He looked great, his handshake was strong, and he had that look in his eye, that glint of a prize fighter. I think he’s ready to get back in the ring, and he’ll KO any and all opponents.”

He is a strong contender and I think he should definitely be considered top-tier.  I don’t think he’s a slam dunk for the nomination though.  In the last poll that was done among Republicans (back in July) Branstad only had a 4 point lead over Vander Plaats.  However, 19% of those surveyed said they didn’t know who they would support in the primary.  It would be interesting to see what that would look like now.

I suspect that some candidates will step down once Branstad announces.  Vander Plaats is all in.  Chris Rants has shown he’s more than willing to draw blood and point out problems in Branstad’s record.  Steve Deace shared last month eight things that Branstad would have to do to help unify the party

He’s going to have to convince social conservatives that their issues won’t be ignored, and answer for his Iowa Supreme Court picks who decided in favor of gay marriage.  Another piece of baggage that Branstad will have to consider chucking… Doug Gross.  Gross has made it abundantly clear that he desires to throw social conservatives under the bus.  If Branstad aligns with Gross it could be bad news.  I’d advise him to not allow him within 10 feet of his campaign.

Another good move would be to take part in the Polk County Republican’s forum this Sunday.  If he does then people will know he’s serious after missing several opportunities to attend similar events.  Branstad certainly has the name recognition, favorability and record to be a serious candidate.  We’ll just see if he comes looking for a campaign or a coronation.

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