Branstad: Changing Parties a "Fact of Life" in Iowa Politics

Apr 25, 2016

Some Iowa Democrats are changing their party registration in order to vote against 4th District Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King in the upcoming primary, and Governor Branstad says there’s plenty of precedent for the practice.  

Iowa 4th District Republican Congressman Steve King
Credit Clay Masters/IPR

Democrats who oppose Congressman King hope to vote for his Republican challenger Sen. Rick Bertrand (R-Sioux City) in the June primary.

Branstad recalls that in 1994, Democrats changed parties to try to defeat him.

“Remember the Fred Grandy challenge to my election campaign,” Branstad said.  “Thirty percent of the people who voted in Polk County in that were not Republican the day before the election.” 

Similar numbers of Democrats crossed over in Johnson County to vote for Grandy, a former Iowa congressman.   Grandy lost to Branstad in  the primary  by four percentage points. 

Iowa Congressman Fred Grandy
Credit Congressional Pictorial Directory, 103rd US Congress,

“So the ability to change your registration before the election or on election day is something that's been around for a long time,” Branstad said.   “I think it’s a fact of life you have to recognize under the Iowa system.”

Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has endorsed Congressman King in the race.   Branstad says he’s been friends with the congressman for a long time but will not endorse him in the primary.