A fundraising birthday bash for Gov. Terry Branstad this weekend is fueling speculation that he likely will seek an unprecedented sixth, four-year term as Iowa’s chief executive in 2014.
“I really don’t think he’d be having a birthday party right after the election and raising $600,000 if he wasn’t intending to run again,” said Des Moines attorney Doug Gross, a close Branstad ally and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 2002. “I think it’s likely.”
Branstad, who turns 66 on Saturday, is celebrating the event with a birthday event featuring Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate, as the headliner. Tickets for the Iowa governor’s annual birthday fundraiser range from $50 up to $25,000.
“The fact that he’s got his birthday party suggests that he’s certainly leaving that as a pretty viable option to run,” said Des Moines attorney Steve Roberts, a Statehouse lobbyist and former GOP national committeeman and state party chairman. “He wouldn’t be out there fundraising two years ahead if he was thinking of retiring necessarily.”
“Yes, I think he’s going to run again,” Roberts added, noting that Branstad appears to be enjoying his current fifth term in office that began in January 2011 more than the previous four when he served as governor from 1983 to 1999.
Branstad has been noncommittal when quizzed about his future plans occasionally by reporters at his weekly news conferences. However, now that the 2012 election is over, the 2014 political season is under way with the governorship being one of the top races to be contested in two years. Iowa political watchers say the large number of Republicans who campaigned in Iowa for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and state-level candidates and visits such as Rubio’s indicate the 2016 presidential season is taking shape as well.
For Branstad, Gross said “the numbers are pretty strong and you haven’t heard a lot of chatter about who a likely opponent would be, so for all those reasons it looks pretty good for him right now.”