This Saturday marks the first time former Governor Terry Branstad will share the same stage with the other Republicans who’ve been out campaigning for governor this year. Branstad retired from his job as Des Moines University president last month to focus full-time on the upcoming campaign, which would be the fifth time he’s run for governor.
Branstad’s last campaign was nearly 16 years ago. In early 1994, Branstad went back to a barn on the farm where he grew up to formally kick-off his bid for a fourth term. Branstad began by reminiscing about his early years on the Branstad homestead.
“I remember in sixth grade when my parents worked in the packing plant and I was in charge of 150 ewes on this farm. That was a lot of responsibility for a sixth grader, but on a family farm you do what has to be done,” Branstad said, reading from a prepared speech. “We had a heck of a lot of trouble with those lambs and lambing that winter. I got up at the crack of dawn every day and many times I didn’t get to school on time, but I didn’t go to school until I had those lambs penned up and they were nursing.”
Nursing the Iowa economy back to health was the focus of Branstad’s short speech, but he also stressed his Iowa roots since he was facing-off against Fred Grandy in a Republican primary that year. Grandy, a Sioux City native, was a western Iowa congressman in 1994. Grandy was a graduate of the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University.
“I got a good eduction in Leland and Forest City and the University of Iowa and Drake University and I’ll never forget the work ethic that I gained here on the farm,” Branstad said to draw a contrast with Grandy, who had been a star on the “The Love Boat” television series. “Iowa is a place where people don’t just talk about values, they live ’em. I’m proud to be made in Iowa. Frankly, I think the secret to our success here in the Hawkeye State is the people, the people like right here in Winnebago County and all over Iowa.”
Branstad briefly mentioned the Farm Crisis of the 1980s, the drought of 1988 and the floods of 1993.
“We’ve paid our dues in Iowa, but we’re united in a spirit to overcome adversity,” Branstad said. “Now and the rest of this decade of the ’90s, I want it to be our time when the state of Iowa can shine.”
Branstad made three essential promises in his 1994 campaign announcement: “My plan for the future (sets) specific goals to be achieved by the year 2000: 300,000 new jobs; median household income to exceed $40,000 and growth in every single one of Iowa’s 99 counties to make the population the highest in our state’s history.”
None of those goals were accomplished by the turn of the century. Branstad left office in January of 1999 and by then the state was a little less than halfway to his job creation goal. Just 52 of Iowa’s 99 counties saw population growth during Branstad’s last term in office. But Iowa nearly reached Branstad’s third goal. Median household income in Iowa was just under $40,000 by 1999.
As Branstad came to the end of his campaign kick-off speech back in 1994, he closed with a phrase Iowans may hear in 2010. “And you know I’ve got the experience you can trust to get the job done,” Branstad said.
Branstad spoke for about 10 minutes before posing for pictures with his family, in front of two tractors. The entire event lasted less than 15 minutes. Joy Corning, Branstad’s lieutenant governor, was given 90 seconds to say a few words.
“I am so pleased to be his running mate and even if I were not, I would be voting and working for Terry Branstad,” Corning told the crowd.
Click here to listen to Branstad’s 1994 campaign kick-off: Branstad 1994 14:40 MP3