The Longest Serving, Most Low Key, Governor In American History

Terry Brandstad

Eric Ostermeier shares this about Iowa Governor Terry Branstad:

[Brandstad] has served as chief executive of the Hawkeye State for 6,749 days through July 4th (18 years, 5 months, 24 days). That means he has been governor for 11.1 percent the 60,820 days since Iowa achieved statehood on December 28, 1846. Once Branstad finishes his current term on January 13, 2015, his 7,307 days in office will have made him the state’s governor for 11.9 percent of Iowa’s post-statehood years. And if Branstad decides to run for a sixth (nonconsecutive) term in 2014 and wins, he will have served 8,770 days by the end of that term on January 15, 2019, or 14.0 percent of the 62,841 days in Iowa’s history.

All of this as a Republican in a state that has been drifting Democratic in recent years.

Two thoughts come to mind. One, it’s interesting that nobody has apparently tried to persuade Branstad to run for the state’s open Senate seat rather than re-election in 2014. Given his success in statewide elections going back decades, he would arguably be the best candidate the GOP could put up. Second, it’s also interesting that Branstad has never been on anyone’s short list of either potential Presidential candidates or potential Vice-Presidential running mates. We’re talking about a person who has served as a Governor longer than anyone in American history. That’s some pretty serious Executive experience

FILED UNDER: US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    All of this as a Republican in a state that has been drifting Democratic in recent years.

    I think you have missed the fact that Branstad served as Governor of Iowa between 1983 and 1999 and that he then was elected again in 2010.

  2. PJ says:

    Back in 1982 Iowans were still voting R.
    As an incumbent, his win in 1986 wasn’t that impressive.
    1994 and 2010 were Republican wave elections.

    Which leaves 1990.

  3. ernieyeball says:

    The joke I always heard was that the best thing to ever come out of Iowa was an empty Greyhound Bus…
    Well now the joke’s on me.
    If I would have paid attention over the years, realized that the Citizens of the Hawkeye State laugh at the idea of Term Limits and that they repudiate the notion that the Government should restrict their Political Freedom at the polls by dictating who can not run for office I might have had a more thoughtful assessment of my neighbors to the north.

  4. Craigo says:

    1. How do you know they nobody has tried to persuade him for Senate?
    2. How do you know that he’d be a good national candidate?

  5. ernieyeball says:

    @Craigo: 2. How do you know that he’d be a good national candidate?

    No one knows the future (except Reynolds) but if we are talking Republican US Presidential candidates I think just by default he is better than the most recent crop of GOP wannabes.

  6. Vast Variety says:

    As an Iowa native Branstand’s record is not one to be proud of nor am I against term limits. Frankly I chalk his repeated victories, as well as those of Harkin, Grassley, King, and a few other career state politicians not to any good they have done but to the shear laziness of Iowa voters. We love our incumbents and it takes too much effort to decide to vote for someone new.

  7. Aesop says:

    @Vast Variety: Sour Grapes?

  8. al-Ameda says:

    Based on my take on Iowa Caucuses, I think it’s a job that not many people want.

    Still, I wish Branstad well.