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Hawkeye State is in very good hands

By Staff | Jan 8, 2016

As 2016 begins, many Americans are unhappy about the direction of the nation. Cynicism about the motives and integrity of elected officials is commonplace. A great many of our fellow citizens hold the men and women who occupy top government posts in low regard.

That negative view of politicians may be part of the reason that the national news media found it so impressive when Gov. Terry Branstad reached a historic milestone on Dec. 14, 2015. On that day he became the longest-serving American governor. Branstad’s nearly 21 years as the Hawkeye State’s chief executive far exceeds the tenure of any governor currently in office. Of more than 2,000 people who have been governors in the American states since the nation was created, only a handful have served even a decade in office. (The only governor whose length of service even comes close was New York Gov. George Clinton, who was in office late in the 18th century.)

If Iowa’s politics was dominated by one political party it might not be so surprising that a single individual had been elected governor six times. In truth, however, the party competition here is highly competitive. In recent decades, the voters have selected both Democrats and Republicans to occupy the governor’s chair. Both parties have controlled the Legislature. At the moment, the GOP controls the Iowa House. The Democrats are in charge of the state Senate.

When states face governing challenges, it often becomes difficult for governors to achieve re-election. When tough, controversial decisions are required it is often hard to do what is needed without losing the support of large numbers of voters.

Branstad has retained the backing of a majority of Iowans even though he has been in office when issues had to be faced that could have been his undoing. The 1980s were far from an easy time for even a more experienced executive to be in charge. The farm crisis that shook the state’s economy required a pragmatic, flexible leader who was able to chart the way to a better future. Branstad met that challenge superbly. By the 1990s the state was once again thriving.

The secret of Terry Branstad’s success really is no mystery. He approaches his job with a pragmatic, can-do approach that is in sync with the way most Iowans tackle life’s problems. While Branstad is a committed leader of the Republican Party, he understands that excessive partisanship can harm the state. He has a long record of working constructively with both Democrats and Republicans to build a better Iowa.

As 2016 begins, Iowans may have their doubts about some politicians. Even so, a great many of them have come to believe that Terry Branstad warrants their trust.

Farm News congratulates the governor on the national recognition he is just now so deservedly receiving. We are delighted to have him still leading our state as it faces the challenges of the 21st century.

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