Birthdate: Nov. 17, 1946
Birth Place: Leland, IA, United States
Residence: Des Moines, IA
First Elected: 2010
Terry Branstad was born in Leland, Iowa, and now resides in Des Moines. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Drake University.
He became politically active at the University of Iowa, opposing the anti-Vietnam War movement.
He spent two years in the Army in the military police.
Branstad opened a law practice in Lake Mills with a close friend but grew more interested in politics. He was elected to the state Legislature in 1972, to the lieutenant governor's office in 1978 and to the governorship in 1982.
He left the governor's house after 16 years and became president of Des Moines University, where he served until retiring in 2009 to run again for governor.
In 2010, he beat one-term Democratic Gov. Chet Culver.
Branstad and his wife, Chris, have three children.
Terry Branstad has been a Republican fixture in Iowa politics for decades. In 2010, he was elected to his fifth term as Iowa's governor.
Branstad was governor of Iowa throughout the 1980s, when falling land and commodity prices hammered the state's economy. He spent most of his tenure with a solid Democratic majority in the legislature, forcing him to bargain with Democrats who pushed for more state spending.
He signed into law two increases in the state's sales tax and a hike in the state's gasoline tax, defending both by saying he got spending reforms in exchange.
Branstad was pressured to return to politics when the party couldn't find a big name to oppose Democratic Gov. Chet Culver. Branstad won the 2010 Republican primary, defeating two other candidates even though he no longer headed the conservative wing of the party. He beat Culver, winning by a margin of nearly 10 percentage points.
He has been critical of President Barack Obama and his administration. After Obama made a campaign trip to Iowa in May 2012, Branstad said, "President Obama is back in Iowa, and we are hearing the same lofty rhetoric and the same promises of hope and change we heard four years ago. But the president has had a chance to keep his promises, and so far all we have to show for them is disappointment."
Branstad is critical of the 2010 health care reform bill. In response to the June 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the key part of the bill, he said, "Today, the Supreme Court handed down a disastrous decision to uphold President Obama's destructive healthcare law, which means a future of higher costs, fewer choices, and increasing debt for Iowans. The current healthcare system is nothing but a federal takeover that will cost the country trillions of dollars in new federal spending."
In his first legislative session, Branstad succeeded in reducing spending, but he failed to gain approval of proposed reductions in corporate income taxes and commercial property taxes. Lawmakers also rejected his proposal to cut spending on preschool and freeze overall spending on schools.
In the 2012 session, Branstad again sought reductions in commercial property taxes and a dramatic overhaul of the public school system, including new requirements for teachers and new tests for students. Both efforts failed, largely because of opposition in the Democratically controlled Senate.
Source: Associated Press