Terry Branstad is coming back. He always does, whether we like it or not.
Ambassador Branstad is leaving China next month to return to Iowa. Our former governor says he will hit the campaign trail for Republican candidates, including U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. She’s in a tight contest with Democrat Theresa Greenfield. Whatever other reasons led to his departure remain a mystery.
All I can say is welcome back. Also, Iowans, remain alert. His comebacks have consequencs.
Previously on “Branstad!”
Branstad won back the the governor’s office in 2010. Upon being sworn in, he swiftly denied felons the right to vote. His first budget sought to slash state funding for preschool.
He went on to sign bills abolishing local minimum wage increases and gutting collective bargaining for public employees. Branstad vetoed bipartisan funding for clean water and increased funding for public schools. He closed mental health facilities and workforce development offices. He unilaterally privatized Medicaid without asking anyone involved if it was a good idea.
He did help create 200,000 jobs, but only if you don’t subtract jobs lost. Not even math was safe.
Gone was the seemingly more pragmatic Branstad 1.0, who served as governor during the 80s and 90s, the guy who signed a minimum-wage increase, signed legislation creating the Resource Enhancement and Protection program, or REAP and made compromises.
But that brand of Iowa Republicanism is long gone, too. Branstad remains a popular and nostalgic figure for many Iowans, a throwback to calmer, saner times. His 2010 running mate, Kim Reynolds, is now governor. Ernst and Chuck Grassley fill both Senate seats.
An impressive slate of leaders. But, unfortunately, the true leader of Iowa Republicans is Donald Trump.
Nowhere have top Republicans clung more tightly in unison to the president than in Iowa. Through his trade wars that harmed agriculture, his mishandling of the pandemic, his daily lies and national embarrassments, Iowa GOP leaders have kept their front row seats on the USS Trump. Not even a distinct sinking feeling can sway their loyalty.
So now, Trump’s ambassador is coming home to save a senator who stuck by the president and now risks losing her once safe seat. Trump-endorsed congressional candidates are traversing their districts screaming “socialism!” at anyone who will listen. The GOP controlled Legislature made it harder to vote by mail, citing Trumpian delusions of voter fraud, and the Republican secretary of state is carrying out lawmakers’ orders, with a big assist from lawsuits filed by Trump’s campaign.
Reynolds, who has followed Trump’s erratic lead in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, is now presiding over one of the…
Read more:: Branstad’s back. But Iowa belongs to Trump