DES MOINES | Iowa Republicans reiterated the need for unity Monday in 2014 to avoid letting a “significant opportunity” for success at the polls slip away this November.
“I believe that 2014 is a year of great opportunity, but it isn’t going to happen unless we work extraordinarily hard and that we work together and that we unite behind the Republicans who are successful in winning the nomination of our party,” Gov. Terry Branstad told about 120 attendees at a GOP prayer breakfast held just before the start of the 2014 legislative session.
A.J. Spiker, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, noted that Republicans need 26 votes in the Iowa Senate to seize control of the state government. Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Iowa House to protect in the November election and Branstad is expected to soon announce plans to seek an unprecedented sixth term as governor.
“It’s going to be a good year for us,” said Senate GOP Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock, who noted Republicans – now in a 24-26 minority -- believe they can capture three seats in key Senate races this November. “There is excitement and enthusiasm out all across Iowa.”
While the event was a legislative breakfast, most of the focus was on federal races where open seats will be contested for U.S. Senate and two U.S. House districts. At least a dozen of the breakfast attendees have announced or are eyeing running in those races.
“This is the year that we can make a difference,” Branstad told the gathering.
The governor said 2014 has the same feel that 2010 and 1994 had, which turned out to be great years for Republicans. He said the Obama administration is getting more unpopular every day but he warned that Republicans cannot allow intraparty differences to develop into a “family feud” that impedes a unified effort.
What will be need is a “positive alternative” and “welcoming” message from Republicans wooing Iowa voters.
“This is a year where the wind is at our back,” the governor said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going to win. We’ve got to nominate strong candidates. We need candidates that are going to be focused and committed to talking about the issues that are important to Iowans.”
In response, Christina Freundlich, spokesperson for the Iowa Democratic Party, said “Terry Branstad should take a good, long look at the current state of the GOP and reconsider how ‘great’ things will be for Republicans this year.
“With the countless candidates jumping into federal races, all Iowans are seeing are a divided party that is in a constant state of disagreement and purse disarray. Democrats are united and ready to move our state forward, supporting issues like raising the minimum wage, educating our children, and fighting for the middle class. The only thing Republicans have in common is they are all fighting amongst themselves,” Freundlich added.