He noted Congressman Tom Latham’s announced retirement, “We are going to miss Congressman Latham. He’s been a great Representative for Iowa. He has been a great vote getter, and he has really been a dedicated public servant.”
“We have some significant opportunities,” Branstad added. “Obviously this is the first time in a long time that we have not had an incumbent United States Senator Tom Harkin. We have an open seat. The Democrats have made, I think, a strategic and tragic mistake in deciding to unite behind a Democrat Congressman. The last thing we need is another Congressman in the United States Senate. We have seen the way they mismanage things and all of the problems and gridlock in Washington, DC. We have a very spirited race and we have many good candidates in that Senate seat, and I think that it is important that we unite around whoever ends up being our Republican nominee. This is the opportunity of many decades to regain control of that Senate seat and have a Senator that will vote with Chuck Grassley to restore fiscal responsibility and get America back on the track towards growth and opportunity.”
He also pointed out opportunity for Republicans with two open Congressional seats. He said it looks like Republicans will have open and contested primaries in three of the four Congressional races in Iowa. “It is critically important, and this is the year, this is the year in which we have a real chance to win every one of the four Congressional seats. But, it’s critically important that we unite behind and support the Republican candidate that emerges in each of those four districts.”
He added, “There’s too much at stake. This country can not grow another trillion dollars in debt every year. We can’t afford to have a Congress that continues to be a lap dog for an administration that is bound and determined to set us on a course that is unaffordable and unsustainable and that puts the American Dream and our freedoms and our liberties at risk. We can’t afford that. That is why this is a year of great opportunity.”
Branstad said from his experience being on the ballot numerous times in good Republican years and bad that 2014 looks to be as good of a year for Republicans as 2010 and 1994. He said, “This is the year where the wind is at our back. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to win. We’ve got to nominate strong candidates. We need candidates that are going to be focused and committed to talking about the issues that Iowans care about. We need to be disciplined. We need to be focused. We need to work hard. We need to do everything we can to unite as a party behind our nominee recognizing our differences are small compared to the differences we have with this Administration which is, by the way, becoming more unpopular every day as the American people figure out the fact that they were misled and obviously not told the truth about Obamacare. They were not told the truth about a lot of things and they recognize there is a need for a change.”
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds spoke before Branstad highlighting the accomplishments of the administration over the last three years. Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker noted in introducing Reynolds that as the Branstad-Reynolds team formally announces their re-election campaign that Republicans will support her. “I know our convention looks forward to renominating you,” Spiker said. During the 2010 state convention she was challenged by Bob Vander Plaats in an attempt to thwart Governor Branstad’s pick of Reynolds (then a State Senator) as his running mate. There has been talk of a similar challenge at the 2014 state convention, but the success of such an endeavor is likely not to succeed.
All of the U.S. Senate candidates, minus Paul Lunde, were present at the legislative breakfast. Spiker introduced Sam Clovis, Joni Ernst, Mark Jacobs, Scott Schaben and Matt Whitaker. All of the declared Republican candidates for the Iowa 3rd Congressional District race – Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, David Young, and Joe Granadette. Potential candidates Robert Cramer, Monte Shaw, and State Senator Brad Zaun were also in attendance. Zaun told Caffeinated Thoughts that he planned to announce after the Iowa Caucus is held.
Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and State Auditor Mary Mosiman were also in attendance.
Iowa House and Senate Leadership spoke. Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) said that he hoped to finish with the session by March 30th to loud applause. He noted that income tax reform was going to be at the top of his agenda. House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) promised that House Republicans will be vigilant about maintaining core budgeting principles. Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) said he believed 2014 looks like a good year to pick up seats. “It is going to be a good year for us. There is excitement and enthusiasm throughout Iowa.” He noted that with contested Senate seats there are at least two or three candidates that they believe can win.
Photo credit: A.J. Spiker (Branstad picture) and Branstad-Reynolds (Reynolds picture)