The nation’s longest serving governor began his day like many of the other 7,641 days he’s been Iowa’s chief executive.
Governor Terry Branstad got up, put on a suit and tie and at 8:30 a.m. he delivered the welcoming speech to a group of business executives and state officials gathered for a day-long meeting in Des Moines.
“This day is really like most other days,” Branstad told Radio Iowa right after his appearance. “…I learned a long time ago: ‘work hard every day and try to make a difference’ and that’s what we’re doing and when you look back over the number of years that I’ve served, I think we have made a difference and Iowa is a different state and there’s always new challenges and you’ve got to be ready to meet them.”
Branstad was already the longest-serving governor in the state of Iowa when he left office in January of 1999. He won reelection to a fifth term in 2010 and he won a sixth term in 2014. As of today, Branstad has served 21 years, 11 months and three days as governor. That gives him the title of longest-serving governor in U.S. history. Shortly before nine o’clock this morning, Branstad laughed when asked about the hoopla surrounding today.
“Well, it’s not Christimas, but it is a significant milestone,” Branstad said.
A Milestone Celebration is planned this evening in Des Moines and Branstad will be in his formal office at the state capitol until four o’clock this afternoon, holding a public open house. Branstad said he’s not superstitious, so he’s not carrying any sort of good luck charm in his pocket or wearing anything special today.
“No, no, no,” Branstad said, laughing as he flipped his tie up to look at the label. “This is a tie that actually I got at an auction for a Republican legislative candidate.”
But Branstad, who turned 69 last month, said he is sentimental and looking forward to seeing old friends today.
“This is a job you don’t do by yourself. It’s really a team effort,” Branstad said. “I’ve had some great people to work with me — lieutenant governors and staff members and department heads — and just the people in the private sector that have really made huge investments and made a difference in our state.”
Branstad told his early morning audience he’s putting together his priority list for the 2016 Iowa legislature and he invited the group to share any policy ideas they may have.
“We’re not done yet,” Branstad said at 8:45 a.m. today. “We’ve got a lot more we want to do.”
Branstad joked that he’s a “pretty competitive person” and while Branstad has said he hopes Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds becomes the first woman to win the governorship in Iowa, Branstad hasn’t said whether he’ll retire or seek reelection to a seventh term in 2018.