One of former Governor Terry Branstad’s longtime associates has filed the paperwork to form an exploratory committee for a Branstad campaign for governor. Richard Schwarm, Branstad’s former law partner, is the one who filed the paperwork this morning, but Schwarm says the step isn’t a signal Branstad is, indeed, running for governor.

“It does not signal any direction or process by Terry Branstad other than the fact that he had to be aware of that we needed to do the filing,” Schwarm says.  “He is spending his time focused on his responsibilities at Des Moines University.  He’s not involved.” 

Branstad, a Republican, is president of Des Moines University, the nation’s second-largest osteopathic school. Schwarm says the paperwork had to be filed because he and other backers of Branstad spent $750, and state campaign finance laws require public disclosure when $750 is raised or spent on behalf of a potential candidate.

“I don’t have anything to do with, really, campaign finance law, but it was very much a surprise to me when I found that out we would have to do this,” Schwarm says. “That’s why we tried so hard not to reach this $750 threshold and so, yes, it would seem odd to those not involved in politics and to most of us involved in politics that to do what I want to continue to do required a committee.”

Schwarm says he “had no clue” the filing of paperwork would draw so much attention.  He is not willing to disclose the advice he’s given Branstad about reentering politics and seeking a fifth term as governor.  

“I think if he decided to run he would be a very formidable candidate.  If elected, he would be an excellent governor.  He and his family have sacrificed a lot for the State of Iowa.  This would be a tremendous sacrifice if he decides to do it,” Schwarm says.  “Iowa is a better place because of Terry Branstad, no matter what he decides.” 

Schwarm and Branstad first met when Schwarm was a sophomore at Morningside College in Sioux City and Branstad was a senior at the University of Iowa.  The two men entered Drake Law School at the same time, however, because Branstad spent two years in the military after graduating from college.  In 1974, the two men bought a law practice in Lake Mills and were law partners until December, 1982. Branstad’s first term as governor began in January of 1983.

Branstad’s secretary says the former governor is not speaking publicly today. 

The campaign committee Schwarm has formed has no relationship to the “Draft Branstad” Political Action Committee according to Sandra Greiner,  the PAC’s chairwoman.  Greiner released a written statement early this morning.

“Today is a great day for future generations of Iowans as Governor Branstad takes the next step toward deciding to run for Governor of Iowa,” Greiner said.  “Since I began this effort several weeks ago, I have heard from people all across this state who want real, experienced leadership during these tough economic times and like me, they believe Governor Branstad is the best person for this job.”