DES MOINES — After a historically productive legislative session, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is setting himself up to run for an unprecedented sixth term in 2014, even as he holds off announcing whether he'll actually seek re-election.
Branstad isn't indicating his plans, but his powerful political operation is gearing up this summer with staffing and fundraising. And Branstad's team in the Iowa Capitol is starting work on policy proposals that could form part of the campaign platform.
"I believe he's going to run again. I think he should do so because he still has the fire in the belly," said Richard Schwarm, a longtime Branstad adviser and his former law partner. "It's his time table for when he announces, but I expect that it will be that he's running."
During the recent legislative session, Branstad worked with the Republican-majority state House and the Democratic-controlled Senate to win compromise deals on two long-held priorities — property tax cuts and education policy changes. The property tax deal gradually reduces taxable assessments for commercial properties by 10 percent, and the education plan will provide more money to school districts to boost minimum pay and offer incentives for teachers who take on tasks like mentoring. Lawmakers and Branstad also agreed to accept federal dollars to expand low-income health care in Iowa.
Branstad Chief of Staff Jeff Boeyink said Branstad will not slow down next year, even though legislative sessions in election years are typically considered less productive. Boeyink said staffers are reviewing several issues for possible legislation in the next session, including income tax policy, increasing broadband access in rural Iowa and strengthening the state's anti-bullying laws.
Boeyink said Branstad isn't likely to make any final decision on running again until "probably next year." But if Branstad opts to run, the campaign will be ready.