When Governor-elect Terry Branstad takes office in January, he will be the first Iowa governor in at least 50 years to have grandchildren.
During his campaign for a fifth term, Branstad often joked that his four-year-old granddaughter Mackenzie would tell people both she and grandpa were running for governor. “She walked the whole State Fair Parade with me with the heat index over 100 degrees. She walked the whole Forest City parade which is nearly three miles long,” Branstad says. “She’s got down the, you know, throwing out candy and waving and all that.”
Branstad spoke to a crowd of supporters on Election Night and showed off his four grandchildren, all under the age of five. “And they’ve been growing. Here, come on you guys!” Branstad said, motioning for the grandkids to come forward on stage. “Mackenzie, Bridget, Sofia, and Alexis — and the children as well.”
Branstad’s oldest child, Eric, was seven and his daughter Allison was five when the Branstads moved into the governor’s mansion in 1983. The Branstad’s third child, Marcus, was born the following year. Branstad says living in the governor’s mansion again will be easier now that his own children are grown.
“It’s really tough when you have teenagers because teenagers don’t understand the scrutiny that goes with being the governor and the governor’s kids,” Branstad says. “A lot of people thought, ‘Well, they get special things,’ but they also get special scrutiny and that’s really tough for a teenager to understand or accept.”
During a speech this past March to about 500 Iowa Christian Alliance members, Branstad mentioned those teenaged years which included Eric Branstad’s involvement in a fatal car accident.
“My wife and I share a deep Christian faith and we’ve been through a lot of trials as any parents have in raising their children,” Branstad said. “And I just want to say thank you to all those people as we’ve gone through the challenges of raising children through teenage years and all of that, the prayers and the encouragement that we’ve received. I know we’ve made our share of mistakes, but I think it’s critically important that we ask Jesus Christ for his forgiveness and that we endeavor to try to do the very best we can.”
Branstad and his wife, Chris, were married on June 17, 1972 at a Catholic Church in Des Moines. “And that was the day of the Watergate break-in,” Branstad said during a speech earlier this year, laughing with the crowd before adding: So we have an infamous anniversary, but I’m proud that we’re married and I’m proud of our three children.”
Branstad’s son, Eric, and his wife, Adrianne, have three children. Branstad’s daughter Allison is a teacher in Waukee. She and her husband just had their first child this fall. Marcus Branstad, the youngest child of Terry and Chris Branstad, is engaged to be married on May 28, 2011.