Governor Chet Culver formally kicks off his bid for reelection this morning  with an event in Des Moines.  “As I’ve said quite often recently, you know, governing really is tough and difficult,” Culver said this weekend during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.  “Campaigning in fun, so I’m looking forward to hitting the trail.” 

Culver’s seeking a second term in a year when voters seem to be in an anti-incumbent mood. Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford says in this environment, Culver has had a puzzling campaign strategy.

“One of the most important things in politics is the capacity to define your opponents and avoid being defined by your opponent and Governor Culver thus far has run a curiously passive operation,” Goldford says. 

At 10 o’clock this morning Culver plans to hold a rally at Hoover High School where he taught before being elected secretary of state in 1998.  He’ll also make stops in Newton, Grinnell and Waterloo.  Tomorrow, Vice President Joe Biden will rally with Culver in Cedar Rapids.  Goldford says the most important thing for Culver at this point is to reconnect with his fellow Democrats. 

“So bringing in a big political name gives him the opportunity to do that,” Goldford says. “How successful that will be is another question but he’s got to energize his supporters since, as we know, mid-term elections are notoriously low-turnout elections.”

Culver has had a sometimes rocky relationship with core elements of the Democratic Party coalition, especially organized labor.  Culver argues that’s all in the past and the party is “unified” for the electoral battles of 2010.

“I do not have a primary challenge.  I think that suggests that the party is united.  I just received the unanimous endorsement of the Iowa Federation of Labor,” Culver said on IPTV.  “…And the most recent poll actually showed that I have as much or more support from the Democratic Party than any of my opponents has from the Republican Party.” 

Culver also points to voter registration figures which show there are about 100,000 more registered Democrats in Iowa than Republicans.