DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad’s upcoming departure to Beijing marks the end of a career in state politics that spans several decades.
The 70-year-old is the longest serving governor in the U.S. at more than 22 years. The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Branstad Monday as the next ambassador to China.
As Branstad gets ready to leave Iowa, he’s highlighted the state’s low unemployment rate and renewable energy investments in wind farms and ethanol.
But critics point to legislation he approved this year that weakened public unions, restricted minimum hourly wage increases and added a voter identification requirement at the polls. Branstad in recent years also privatized Iowa’s Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled without legislative approval.
Once Branstad resigns as governor, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will replace him.