Trish Roberts helped introduce Gov. Terry Branstad to many of the 150 people who attended a fund-raiser for the governor’s re-election campaign.
Trish Roberts helped introduce Gov. Terry Branstad to many of the 150 people who attended a fund-raiser for the governor’s re-election campaign.
July 24, 2014

Gov. Terry Branstad connected with Carroll County before he knew it was even happening.

In 1974, as a candidate for the Iowa Legislature, the Lake Mills native met Monsignor A.W. Behrens, who was assigned as a priest at Bancroft before his service in the Catholic Church took him to Mount Carmel.

"I listened, and I learned a lot," said Branstad, a Catholic who attends several churches in Iowa, including, more locally, St. Patrick Catholic Church in Bayard and St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Panora.

A collection of Carroll Countians hosted a fundraiser for the governor Tuesday night at Greasewood Flats, a rustic rural retreat east of Carroll owned by Todd and Jodi Bierl.

"You put together an event that I will always remember," Branstad said of the Western-themed gathering.

About 150 people attended the "BBQ and Boots" party, which raised $9,000 for the governor's re-election campaign, according to Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers, one of the hosts.

"I even polished my boots," Branstad said. "They're old, but I polished them.

The governor, who arrived early to the event and stayed more than two hours, joined Trish Roberts of Carroll, wife of the director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Rod Roberts, in meeting and chatting with most of the attendees at the north-side entrance to the party barn.

"This county has been so good to me," Branstad said.

Branstad, a five-term governor seeking a sixth, has never lost Carroll County in his statewide races, for governor and lieutenant governor (when the latter was listed separately on the ballot).

Branstad said he sought a second act in Iowa politics in 2010 because he wanted to lead an economic rebound. In remarks to the attendees, Branstad pointed to Iowa's relatively low unemployment rate.

Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 4.4 percent in June, Workforce Development announced last Friday. The state's jobless rate stood at 4.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent in June from 6.3 percent in May.

Carroll County's unemployment for May stood at 3 percent - and has been lower during the year.

"We want Iowa to be the envy of the whole country," Branstad said.

Branstad said Carroll's success stems in large part from the presence of strong public and Catholic schools.

"You cooperate and work together," he said.

Branstad, who enjoys healthy leads in most polls over his November foe, Democratic State Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines, spent much of his remarks boosting the candidacies of other Republicans.

He urged support for House District 12 Republican candidate Brian Best of Glidden, who is challenging State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla.

"It's great to have somebody who is the 'best' candidate," Branstad deadpanned.

He also encouraged Jared Waddle, the 23-year-old Coon Rapids Republican challenging rural Carroll Democrat Marty Danzer for the District 4 Carroll County Supervisors seat.

Branstad, who was 25 when he ran for the Iowa Legislature, said 23 is not too young to run for supervisor and serve effectively if elected.

The governor's strongest words of endorsement went to State Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak, the GOP candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Branstad said Ernst's background of service in the Iowa National Guard should resonate with Carroll voters who have proven to be strong supporters of the military. What's more, Branstad said, Ernst grew up on an Iowa farm.

"We've never elected a woman to the U.S. Senate or Congress from Iowa," Branstad said. "This is our best chance."

Waddle and Best attended the fundraiser. Ernst is now involved in National Guard service.