CEDAR RAPIDS — Gov. Terry Branstad has made no secret of the fact he’s grooming Kim Reynolds to succeed him, but the lieutenant governor says that’s not something she’s thinking about.

“We’re just starting the second year of our second term,” Reynolds told The Gazette Editorial Board Thursday. “We’ve got a lot yet to do. We’re excited about the possibilities ahead and we’re going to keep working to continue to have a great story to tell here in Iowa.”

She also rejected frequent speculation that Branstad, now that he has become the nation’s longest-serving governor, will resign to give Reynolds an opportunity to establish herself as governor before the 2018 election. That would give her a leg up on fellow Republicans — Cedar Rapids Mayor Rob Corbett and Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey, for example, who are seen as likely candidates for the nomination – as well as Democrats who might want the job.

The chances of that are “zero to none,” Reynolds insisted.

“You know the governor. He loves this state. He works tirelessly on behalf of Iowans. He’s got a lot he wants to accomplish,” Reynolds said. “He’s going to serve out his term.”

Under any scenario, Branstad has been Reynolds’ biggest promoter.

“She is very capable, very talented,” the governor said on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press. “She is in on all the decision-making, she is next in line to be governor, I want to make sure that she is as well-prepared and I’d say she is probably already as well-prepared as anybody ever has been to be governor.”

Reynolds, 56, had 19 years of experience in county government and was serving in the Iowa Senate when Branstad tabbed her as his running mate.

Reynolds hasn’t ruled out making a bid to be Iowa’s first female governor. However, “the people are going to be ultimately the ones to decide,” she said.

“I’ve been in politics a long time and I know how it works,” Reynolds said. “I’m going to keep doing the constituent service and working with Iowans across the state.”

After being Branstad’s shadow in public appearances throughout their first term, Reynolds is appearing on her own more often. This week, she and the governor are on separate tours of Iowa promoting the proposals he made in his 22nd Condition of the State speech to the Legislature Tuesday.

Comments: 319-398-8375; James.Lynch@TheGazette.com.

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