Terry Branstad, 39th & 42nd Governor of Iowa

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Terry Edward Branstad

Birthplace: Leland, Winnebago County, Iowa, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Arnold Branstad and Rita Lorraine Branstad
Husband of Private
Father of Private; Private and Private
Brother of Private and Private

Occupation: American politician, university administrator, and diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to China from 2017 to 2020.
Managed by: Renee Stern Steinig
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Terry Branstad, 39th & 42nd Governor of Iowa


Terry Edward Branstad (born November 17, 1946) is an American politician who was the 42nd Governor of Iowa, in office from January 2011 until he resigned after being confirmed as United States Ambassador to China on May 23, 2017. Branstad was also the state's 39th Governor from 1983 to 1999, and he was President of Des Moines University from 2003 to 2009. He is a member of the Republican Party. Branstad is the longest serving governor in American history.[2] In his 2010 political comeback, Branstad won a three-way primary election for the Republican nomination to run for governor in the general election. He faced incumbent Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat and four third party candidates on November 2, 2010.[3] He won the general election in November, defeating Culver by 52.9% to 43.1%.[4]

Branstad entered the 2010 race as the front runner for both the primary and general elections. Independent polling in 2009 indicated that his approval ratings hovered in the 70% range.[5] He was widely seen as the front runner for the Republican nomination, and had wide leads in aggregate polling against the sitting governor, Chet Culver.[6][7][8] He won the Republican primary with 50.4% of the popular vote, 9.5 percentage points ahead of his nearest competitor.

In the election on November 4, 2014, Branstad was elected to an unprecedented sixth four-year term as Iowa governor. On December 14, 2015, he became the longest serving governor in US history (breaking the record held by George Clinton of New York, who served 21 years from 1777 to 1795, and from 1801 to 1804).[2]

Contents [show] Early life[edit] Branstad was born in Leland, Iowa, to Rita L. (Garland) and Edward Arnold Branstad, a farmer.[9][10] His mother was Jewish, while his father was from a Norwegian American Lutheran family; Branstad himself was raised Lutheran, and later converted to Catholicism.[11][12] Through his mother, Branstad is a second cousin of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.[13] Branstad received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and his law degree from Drake University Law School.[14] After getting his undergraduate degree, he was drafted and served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971, serving as an military policeman in the 503rd Military Police Battalion at Fort Bragg,[15] and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service; he once recalled that he arrested actress Jane Fonda for coming onto post at Arlington National Cemetery, where she was planning to attend an anti-war protest.[16][17][18][19]

Early political career[edit] Branstad served three terms in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979 and served as the 41st Lieutenant Governor of Iowa from 1979 to 1983, when he was elected Governor of Iowa.[14]

Governor of Iowa[edit] First tenure (1983–1999)[edit]

Branstad attends the recommissioning ceremony for the USS Iowa, April 28, 1984. When elected governor at age 36, Branstad was the youngest chief executive in Iowa's history and when he left office, he was Iowa's longest-serving governor. He served as Chair of the National Governors Association during 1989–1990, and also was Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association. In 1997, he chaired the Education Commission of the States, the Republican Governors Association, and the Governors' Ethanol Coalition.

In 1983, he vetoed a bill that would allow a state lottery.[20] In 1991, Branstad ignored binding arbitration with employees of the State of Iowa's labor unions by vetoing a salary bill, was taken to court, and lost later in appeals in the state court system (AFSCME Iowa Council 61 et al., v. Branstad).

Iowa’s unemployment rate went from 8.5% when he took office to a record low 2.5% by the time he left office in 1999. In his first year as governor, the state budget had a $90 million deficit.[21] It took several years until the budget was balanced. He claimed that he did not have enough support in the legislature to approve budget reforms until 1992. By 1999, Iowa had an unprecedented $900 million budget surplus.[22][23]

Inter-gubernatorial career[edit]

Branstad (left) with Fred Thompson and Robert D. Ray in 2007. Branstad focused most of his efforts on endeavors outside of politics when he left office in early-1999. He founded Branstad and Associates, LLC and was also a partner in the firm of Kaufman, Pattee, Branstad & Miller, and a financial advisor for Robert W. Baird and Co.

In August 2003, Branstad accepted an offer from Des Moines University[24] to become its president. On October 16, 2009, he announced his retirement from Des Moines University in order to run again for governor.[25]

Branstad was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the President's Commission for Excellence in Special Education.[26] The commission was charged with developing a plan to improve the educational performance of students with disabilities. After completing his work with the commission in 2003, he was asked to serve as a member of the National Advisory Council for Positive Action for Teen Health, or PATH. The advisory council encourages action toward detecting adolescent mental illness. In April 2003, he was named to serve as a public member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which comprises both professional and public members who address such issues as student recruitment and professional ethics for CPAs.[citation needed]

Branstad serves on the boards of, among others, Conmed Health Management Inc, American Future Fund, the Iowa Health System, Liberty Bank, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants,[27] and Living History Farms.

Second tenure (2011-present)[edit] 2010 gubernatorial election[edit]

Branstad's 2010 campaign logo See also: Iowa gubernatorial election, 2010 On August 2, 2009, the Des Moines Register reported that Branstad was actively considering running for the Republican nomination for governor. On October 7, 2009, Branstad filed papers to run for governor in the 2010 election.[28] According to a poll conducted in September 2009 by The Des Moines Register, he maintained a 70% favorability rating from Iowans compared to Governor Chet Culver's rating of 50%.[29]

On June 8, 2010, Branstad won the Republican gubernatorial nomination,[30] but when opposing candidate Bob Vander Plaats conceded, he did not endorse Branstad.[31]

The Des Moines Tea Party gave Branstad a "no" on their report card on "criteria for acceptance" and said Branstad had "a history of raising taxes, [was] not a true conservative, and increased the size of government every year he held office, [and] built a state-owned phone company."[32][33][34][35] Branstad was accused by former Iowa State Auditor Richard Johnson of keeping "two sets of books" on the state budget when he was governor. Johnson said Branstad needed to be "transparent" to Iowa voters about the reporting of Iowa's finances during his tenure as governor.[36]

2014 gubernatorial election[edit] See also: Iowa gubernatorial election, 2014 Branstad ran for reelection in 2014. He was opposed in the Republican primary by political activist and America's Party and American Independent Party nominee for President in 2012 Tom Hoefling.[37] Branstad won the primary with 83% of the vote.

For the general election, Branstad faced Democratic nominee State Senator Jack Hatch and won the election with 59% of the vote.

Issues[edit] Job creation ranking[edit] In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals looking at 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation record, Branstad was ranked number 28.[38] 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.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Branstad speaking at an event hosted by the Iowa Republican Party in October 2015. Terry Branstad married Christine Johnson, (now Chris Branstad) on June 17, 1972. The couple has three children - Eric, Allison and Marcus - and, as of 2014, four grandchildren. Christine has worked as a medical assistant and as a volunteer at schools and hospitals.[40]

Branstad received the honor of "Knight Commander of the Court of Honor" from the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonrude in 2015. He is a 32nd Degree Freemason.[41]

Electoral history[edit] 1982 election for Governor of Iowa: 1982 General Election:[42] Terry Branstad (R), 52.8% Roxanne Conlin (D), 46.6% 1986 election for Governor of Iowa: 1986 General Election:[43] Terry Branstad (R), 51.9% Lowell Junkins (D), 48.0% 1990 election for Governor of Iowa: 1990 General Election:[44] Terry Branstad (R), 60.6% Donald Avenson (D), 38.8% 1994 election for Governor of Iowa: Republican Primary [45] Terry Branstad (R), 51.8% Fred Grandy (R), 48.1% 1994 General Election:[46] Terry Branstad (R), 56.8% Bonnie Campbell (D), 41.6% 2010 election for Governor of Iowa: Republican Primary [47] Terry Branstad (R), 114,290 votes, 50.4% Bob Vander Plaats (R), 92,759, 40.9% Rod Roberts (R), 19,916, 8.8% 2010 General Election:[4] Terry Branstad (R), 52.9% Chet Culver (D), 43.1% 2014 General Election:[48] Terry Branstad (R), 59.1% Jack Hatch (D), 37.3%

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Terry Branstad, 39th & 42nd Governor of Iowa's Timeline

November 17, 1946
Leland, Winnebago County, Iowa, United States