July 15th, 2010
02:45 PM ET
13 years ago

Surprise player in Iowa GOP primary revealed

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/15/iowagop.jpg caption ="This mailer attacking Iowa gubernatorial candidate Terry Brandstad was sent to voters by the Democratic Governors Association–during the republican primary."](CNN) - Beginning in May, a group called Iowans for Responsible Government spent over three quarters of a million dollars on television ads and mailers lumping Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad in with "liberal" politicians like President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton.

Branstad at the time was engaged in a GOP primary fight against conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, a race he won on June 8 by 10 points.

Citing Branstad's record on taxes when he last served as Iowa governor in the eighties and nineties, one mailer from the group blared: "Liberal Terry Branstad would make Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi proud."

One mail piece portrayed Branstad in a lefty version of Mount Rushmore along with Obama, Clinton and Pelosi. Another claimed that Branstad and Obama both favor universal health care and "government mandates."

The mysterious group was headed by headed by former Iowa Democratic Party chairman Robert Tully, but the group refused to reveal its donors.

Now it turns out that the campaign casting Republican Branstad and national Democrats in an unfavorable light was funded by – surprise! - those very same national Democrats.

According to a disclosure report filed this week with the IRS, the group was funded entirely by the Democratic Governors Association, which is backing Gov. Chet Culver's re-election bid. The DGA spent $782,500 on the effort to rattle Branstad.

Branstad's campaign seized on the disclosure:

"A shadowy, out-of-state-funded group attempted to infiltrate the Republican primary for governor with distortions and smear tactics," said Branstad campaign manager Jeff Boeyink. "This is wrong, and despite their best efforts, Iowa voters were smarter than this and chose Terry Branstad as the Republican nominee."

The Democratic Governors Association did not respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: The DGA defended the strategy.

"Terry Branstad saw which way the political winds were blowing and he knew his record of undisciplined and reckless spending would be vulnerable to an attack from the right," said DGA political director Ray Glendening. "He decided to repackage himself as a conservative in order to fit into the Tea Party movement.

"We saw an opportunity with this political hypocrisy and took advantage of it. Branstad continues to run a false and deceptive campaign, and he is not who he says he is. We have and will continue to expose the parts of his record that he would prefer to keep hidden."

Filed under: 2010 • DGA • Iowa • Popular Posts • Terry Branstad
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Nellie Bly, Minneapolis, MN

    I'm a Democrat through and through. Shame on us for doing this dirty tactic.

    July 15, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. Larry

    Being compared to Clinton, Obama, and Pelosi is about as high a compliment ANY politician could receive

    Bravo and Kudos to you Terry Branstad ... Bravo ...

    July 15, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Ben in Texas

    CNN didn't bother to report it when court testimony showed that an operative in Texas Repugnant Governor Rick Perry's campaign funneled money through a Missouri outfit to get the Green Party candidate on the ballot in Texas. The intent was to split the Democratic vote, ensuring Perry would be around to rape the state for a few more years.

    July 15, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. SA in OO

    As a card carrying Democrat I agree – This is wrong, and politically it's stupid.

    With all the shadowy things representative of the Republican right are doing, these kinds of indiscretions by Democrats only serves to give the GOP cover. "Well they do it too . . . "

    By any objective measure the Republican smear tactics are far worse (just read "The Republican Noise Machine" by Brock), but the DNC won't get credit for taking the "high road" . . . some times. And they don't deserve to.

    July 15, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Chicago Tactics

    Just more dishonest tactics by democrats that lie. Their whole platform is built on lies and deceptive tactics, look what we have running congress and the country right now. the democrats are after a dictatorship type government and are doing everything they can to have one.

    July 15, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. larry

    this is politics....both sides do it but it is still dirty

    July 15, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Rock

    Boy, three in that picture look like the axis of evil. Does the rock represent collective brain power?

    July 15, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Willie's Mug

    You can bet Willie will have his mug out front somewhere.More lies by the democrats.

    July 15, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    But there is not need for campaign finance reform? No one but No one from outside a voter district should be allowed to have a say. This election is for the voters of Iowa. They are being undermined by outside interests that make their votes useless.

    July 15, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Wired2theTruth

    Lumped with Bill Clinton?

    Than she's in good company: one of the best presidents we've had post FDR

    July 15, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Mesa Mick

    It's beyond comprehension to see these reptilian-brained rethugliCANTs eat their own using "party purity" as the excuse.

    As a progressive I love it!

    July 15, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. Darth Vadik, CA

    Conservatives always use the word Liberal as if it was bad, but after the past 30 years and what the conservatives have done to this country, you'd realize that Conservative is the the evil word here.

    Old views, old ways, old men, never looking forward, only backwards to the good ole' days (of segregation, anti-women, 1800's sweatshop factories, slavery, dark ages of religion, etc etc etc)...

    July 15, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. U.S. Common Sense

    And people complain that the Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to run ads was bad. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the DGA!

    July 15, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Dumb Goobers Assoc.

    Well that was real inspiring boys, the dga is a real beacon of light in the honesty and truth categories. wackos

    July 15, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    Being a Liberal is a good thing – at least we know how to think independently and care more about people than corporations.

    Only a naive, scared fool would fall for the Republicans fear-mongering and lies.

    Liberal policies pulled us out of the Great Depression in the 30's and left our nation with a budget surplus under President Clinton.

    Conservative policies have resulted in a shrinking Middle Class, job losses to overseas factories, a transfer of wealth upward, two unfunded wars and a trip to the brink of global financial disaster.

    Vote smart – vote Liberal!

    July 15, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad in with "liberal" politicians

    what an insult to liberals

    July 15, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. malabar

    the left attackng the right 4 being 2 liberal. hilarious, dems now admitting how much they suck. nobody here frm the left gona condem these tactics for being misleading and disgusting? hahaha, guess what? ur lies, double standards, and race baiting are falling out of fashion in todays world. GAY LATINO VOTING STRAIGHT REPUBLICAN NOVEMBER 2010

    July 15, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Troubled Independent

    Wow, no wonder democrats are referred to as demo-RATS!

    July 15, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  19. Bertina

    Democrats using Republican tactics. Maybe they will keep their seats in November.

    July 15, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Nurse Lisa

    no matter how much the GOP spends, their lies won't be ignored.

    July 15, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |