Transitions in the Works: Branstad to Ambassador, Reynolds to Governor

May 23, 2017

Gov.Terry  Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday held the final statehouse news conference of Branstad’s long career,  outlining plans for official swearing-in ceremonies on Wednesday.

Branstad will resign from office and be sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China.   Then Reynolds will be sworn in as the 43rd governor of Iowa.    

At the news conference, Reynolds thanked the governor for their years of service together

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds
Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

“It’s difficult to convey how much I appreciate the opportunity to work with you,” Reynolds said, her voice shaking with emotion.  “You continue to make us proud.”

Reynolds will not reveal her decision about choosing a lieutenant governor until Thursday, after Wednesday’s ceremonies are over.   

"I will have the opportunity to share my news about the lieutenant governor process," Reynolds said.

There are questions about whether she will comply with an attorney general’s opinion that she is not authorized to appoint a lieutenant governor.   

Branstad is spending his last full day in office visiting with friends and family in northern Iowa, including Lake Mills where he launched his law career.

“I'm going to see the new Freedom Rock painted in Lake Mills with my picture on it in my army uniform,” Branstad said, “and I will meet with friends and family in Forest City as well.”

Branstad was born in Forest City and grew up on a farm in nearby Leland.   He’ll be bringing memorabilia from his recent years in office for safekeeping at the Mansion Museum in Forest City.   

Gov. Terry Branstad
Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

For the Wednesday ceremony in the governor’s formal office, Branstad has asked U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Colloton to administer the oath of office for the ambassadorship.

“Stephen Colloton is the highest-ranking federal judge from Iowa,” Branstad said.   “It will be my 8,169th day in office.”

A short time later, Chief Justice Mark Cady will administer the oath of office to Reynolds, who will make her first speech as governor.

“I’m going to talk a little about me and my journey from county treasurer to lieutenant governor and then to governor,” Reynolds said.   “And of course some forward-looking policy as well.”  

Governor Branstad’s chief of staff Michael Bousselot announced his resignation.    Reynolds is expected to bring in her own staff, though she has not yet revealed any names. 

In her first days in office, Reynolds will be meeting with members of her cabinet.    She says there will be announcements in the days ahead about changes in department leadership.

The Republican Party of Iowa will host an inaugural celebration for the state’s first female governor next week.