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Branstad might be the answer

By Staff | Aug 28, 2009

The 2010 general election is still more than a year away. Even so, candidates are already showing interest in making Chet Culver a one-term governor.

That’s not surprising.

In difficult economic times, even superb governors find it hard to win re-election unless they can convince voters that they have a viable, long-term game plan for restoring economic prosperity. That may be why polls in a number of states, including Iowa, show incumbent governors in deep political trouble as the 2010 campaign season begins to unfold.

Most economic forecasters expect the next few years to be difficult. No one seriously projectss job growth in the next few months to be as robust as would be necessary to persuade voters that good times have returned.

Culver has been a moderately successful governor with a distinctly mixed record. Since Iowans tend to re-elect their governors, in most election years that would probably be sufficient to give him an edge at the polls next fall.

It’s increasingly clear, however, that voters are not happy with the direction of either the state or the nation. That may make the 2010 gubernatorial race competitive.

Unfortunately, however, that could result in Iowans electing a Republican governor who lacks the experience and vision to lead the Hawkeye State back to prosperity.

It’s very important that the GOP pick a nominee who has the skills necessary to serve as this state’s chief executive in very tough times because that candidate may end up our next governor.

None of the candidates most frequently touted as Republican gubernatorial contenders have thus far demonstrated either in their careers to date or campaign pronouncements the leadership qualities that will be needed.

There is, however, a former governor who should be encouraged to take a serious look at returning to the campaign trail – Terry Branstad.

Branstad was Iowa’s governor for 16 years and successfully led the state during crises in some way reminiscent of today. He came into office during a recession. Branstad built a record on the economic-development front during his four terms in office that few governors anywhere equaled then or are matching today.

During his time as governor, Branstad dealt with a wide assortment of development and tax issues with wisdom. He responded to real-world crises with solutions that reflected a sophisticated appraisal of the situation at hand rather than slavish adherence to ideological purity. His pragmatic approach to governance served this state well in the 1980s and 1990s. It might be exactly what is needed now.

Iowa’s next governor could well be a Republican. Given the tough challenges ahead, it is imperative that we have a governor who is a superstar – not just an ambitious politician.

Terry Branstad’s return could be the answer both to the rebuilding Iowa’s Republican Party and ensuring a top-notch chief executive for our state.

It is time for Gov. Branstad to give serious consideration to coming out of political retirement.

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