DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad began his re-election campaign in earnest last week, and even his Democratic opponent's campaign acknowledged that most people expect the Republican to win a record sixth term.
With the state's economy growing and nearly $5 million available for his campaign, Branstad's supporters and opponents said it would likely take something dramatic, such as a major scandal or sudden downward shock to Iowa's economy, to derail the governor and elect state Sen. Jack Hatch. Even a key Democratic campaign donor has contributed to Branstad and said he has no doubt about the election's outcome.
"There's no way Jack Hatch or anyone can beat the governor, and I'm a Democrat," said Bill Knapp, Sr., a wealthy Des Moines real estate company founder who was a leading donor for Iowa's past two winning Democratic governors. "He's doing a good job and I don't think Hatch or anyone else can beat him."
Knapp has contributed $40,000 to Branstad's 2014 campaign, including $10,000 two weeks ago.
On Wednesday, the day after the Iowa primary election, Branstad began airing a television ad focused on Iowa's declining unemployment, recent reductions in property taxes and funding increases for teacher salaries. Branstad, who left his position as Des Moines University presidency to run for governor in 2010 after 12 years out of office, also launched a statewide road trip Wednesday.
Branstad is among several Republicans in the upper Midwest who replaced Democratic governors in 2011. Unlike the others in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, Branstad didn't have the luxury of one-party control of the Legislature, as Democrats had a majority in the Senate.
As they seek re-election, Branstad appears in the best position among those governors — John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.