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Campaigns take stock of Iowa governor’s race

Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 12:03 p.m. CST

DES MOINES (MCT) — The race for governor in Iowa has started shifting into higher gear now that the legislative session has ended.

Jake Ketzner, Branstad-Reynolds campaign manager, said he is “confidently optimistic” about the five-term GOP governor’s re-election chances.

Branstad, 67, faces a June 3 primary challenge from Lohrville Republican Tom Hoefling, 53. He doesn’t plan to fully shift into campaign mode until he finishes work on bills the Legislature sent him before ending its session last week.

For his part, Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, 64, has made the shift to campaign mode, given the session is over and he does not face a Democratic primary opponent.

“This is a race. They know it is and we are prepared to meet every challenge in this race,” Hatch told reporters at a Statehouse news conference.

Ketzner said the source of his optimism is the fact that the Branstad-Reynolds campaign is on firm footing in fundraising, organization and public support. He noted the incumbent governor has $4 million cash on hand, more than 2,00 county co-chairs and 3,000 volunteers statewide, and new poll numbers giving him a 15-point lead.

On Monday, Davenport-based Victory Enterprises issued a survey of 400 registered votes taken last week that showed Branstad garnering 48 percent and Hatch 33 percent. But Hatch dismissed the poll, which had a 4.9 percent margin of error, as “a partisan poll from a partisan pollster” that over-surveyed Republicans and under-surveyed independents.

“This race is getting closer,” said Hatch, noting concerns with Branstad’s management of state government and leadership skills.

“I want to return integrity back to state government,” Hatch said. “This governor, through his multiple scandals, has I think deteriorated people’s ability to feel good about government again.”

Hatch acknowledged that he is going up against “an experienced political machine” that is unbeaten in 12 contested elections. He expects Branstad will try “to paint me as a liberal Democrat from Des Moines,” yet he said he is the first businessman his party will put up against Branstad who supports a progressive agenda and understands the role of enterprise.

“I respect the private sector and the market-driven enterprises and that’s what they’re going to hear from me. I plan on coming out of the chute with a message that helps define who I am early,” he said.

In an interview last week, Branstad said he was pleased he and the Legislature were able to pass the largest tax cut in state history, education reforms, expanded health care changes and budget changes to control spending with an eye on long-term planning. He also touted $8.8 billion in private-sector investments since his term began.

“I am a candidate for re-election and I’m not assuming anything. I’m going to work extremely hard to earn the right to serve the people of Iowa again. I believe we’ve made a real difference in the time we’ve been back,” Branstad said.

“I don’t intend to rest on my laurels,” he said. “Anybody that’s watched me knows I grew up on the farm, I started out at a very early age with a lot of responsibility and worked very hard. I love this state and nobody is going to out work me. My goal is to be in the best shape and run the best campaign that I’ve ever run,” he added.

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©2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Visit The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at thegazette.com

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