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Branstad announces hires for potential run

Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 10:53 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday that he has cash on hand and staff in place for a potential re-election run in 2014.

The governor has $2 million in his campaign account and has made several campaign hires, according to a news release from his campaign office. But the Republican governor has not formally announced if he will seek a sixth term.

In a separate email to supporters, Branstad said a final decision wouldn’t come until next year but that he was getting his operation in place to “hit the ground running.”

“Over the coming weeks and months, you will hear from our campaign team as they begin voter contact, outreach and community recruitment in a way no other Republican in Iowa has done before,” Branstad said in the email.

Branstad’s campaign committee has hired former staffer Jake Ketzner to serve as campaign manager. Ketzner ran U.S. Rep. Steve King’s 2012 campaign and worked on Branstad’s 2010 campaign.

Also joining Branstad’s political team are staffer Jimmy Centers, who will be communications director, and Phil Valenziano, a staffer for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign who will serve as political director.

During the recent legislative session, Branstad worked with the Republican-majority House and the Democratic-controlled Senate to win compromise deals on two long-held priorities: property tax cuts and education policy changes. The property tax deal gradually reduces taxable assessments for commercial properties by 10 percent, and the education plan will provide more money to school districts to boost minimum pay and offer incentives for teachers who take on tasks like mentoring.

First elected governor in 1982, Branstad is already Iowa’s longest-serving chief executive. He served four terms in office before leaving in early 1999. Branstad then worked in the private sector and served as president of Des Moines University before announcing plans to run again in 2009. He handily won his comeback race against incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and returned to his Capitol office in 2011.

If Branstad runs in 2014, he could face one of several potential Democratic challengers. State Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, is exploring a run, as is state Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids.