Republican-logoIowa Republicans held a fundraising breakfast early this morning in Des Moines to mark the start of the 2015 legislative session, but it turned into a discussion about 2016. Governor Terry Branstad urged legislative leaders to start planning for the next election.

“I’m one of these people who always looks ahead,” Branstad said, “so in 2016 we have a chance to repeat history.”

Branstad has rarely had a Republican-dominated legislature during his 20 year tenure, but he did for two years when, in 1996, Republicans who held control of the Iowa House also were able to win a majority of seats in the Iowa Senate.

“We did it in ’96. (It’s) 20 years later — 2016,” Branstad says, ” so we need to begin working right now recruiting, getting great candidates in every one of those seats.”

Senators serve four-year terms and every two years 25 of the 50 seats in the Iowa Senate are on the ballot. Branstad also spent several minutes talking about the presidential race, too. According to Branstad, Democrats are going to make the same mistake as Iowa Democrats made in 2014.

“They’re going to clear the field for Hillary Clinton, another flawed candidate, just like Braley was a flawed candidate, just like Hatch was a flawed candidate. Just like — what’s her name?” Branstad said, as someone in the crowd yelled: “Appel.”

Branstad laughed. “Appel — I’ve already forgotten it,” he said, the volume of his voice rising as he added: “Just like Appel was a flawed candidate. And none of ’em had primaries. None of them had the test.”

Branstad suggests in contrast Republicans will have a “wide open” contest for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

“And I would just say a very talented field of candidates,” Branstad said. “There’s a lesson for us, though. Instead of attacking each other, we need to focus on restoring America. We cannot afford four more years of this.”

Branstad was the closing speaker at today’s Iowa GOP fundraising breakfast.

AUDIO of speeches, 41:00

The event was a final opportunity to collect donations before the ban on contributions to legislators during the legislative session takes effect at 10 a.m. this morning. Democrats held a private event last night for donors. The top two Democratic leaders from the state senate held two fundraisers Sunday in Des Moines.