Five ex-governors hope to catch on again

Experience, familiarity can get votes

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Mr. Brown has countered in part by touting his experience, and so far it seems to be working. The candidates have spent much of the election locked in a dead heat, but the latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows Mr. Brown pulling away with 50 percent of the vote compared with 44 percent for Mrs. Whitman.

In Iowa, Mr. Branstad, who retired in 1999 after setting the record for the most terms served as the state’s governor at four, is seeking a fifth term over first-term Democratic Gov. Chet Culver.

The Culver campaign has attempted to make Mr. Branstad’s 16 years as governor the main issue, blasting him for raising taxes, state spending and his own salary. Mr. Branstad was also in office during two state disasters, the floods and the farm crisis.

“Terry Branstad: A past we can’t repeat,” says one television spot. “It’s your decision: Will we continue forward or go back to the past?” says another.

But Mr. Branstad’s tenure during tough times appears to be helping him with the voters, who may be looking for someone who is battle-tested. Polls show that he has led the race consistently by double digits.

“Gov. Branstad led Iowa through the farm crisis of the 1980s, when unemployment was higher than it is today, and by the time he left office, it was down to 2 percent,” said Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht. “I think people see Gov. Branstad as a hands-on leader who can right the ship again.”

Georgia Democrat Roy Barnes served a single term before being ousted by Republican Sonny Perdue in 2002. Now Mr. Perdue is term-limited, and the Democrat Barnes is back for another crack at that second term in a contest against Republican Nathan Deal.

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