It's official. A historic transition of leadership will be taking place in the near future at the Iowa statehouse in Des Moines.

Gov. Terry Branstad has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's request to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China in his administration, pending Senate confirmation. Branstad confirmed the news in a statement released to the media Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 7, 2016).

"This new mission to continue serving my state, and my country, in a new role is essential to building a bright future for our children and grandchildren," he said. "With my wife Chris by my side, I look forward to the work ahead but we will never have Iowa far from our hearts."

The Chinese government reacted favorably to the pick, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. Branstad has deep ties to China and a personal friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping that began in 1985.

Branstad is the longest-serving governor in American history, now in his sixth term as Iowa's top-elected official. His pending move to Beijing means that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will become the state's first female chief executive.

As second-in-command under Branstad, Reynolds will ascend to the governorship and hold the position until Branstad’s term ends in January 2019. She could run for governor in 2018.

Reynolds also issued a statement Wednesday, on Branstad's nomination as Chinese Ambassador.

"President-elect Trump’s decision to nominate Gov. Branstad as Ambassador to China speaks volumes about the character, talent and experience of Gov. Terry Branstad," Reynolds said. " As America’s longest-serving governor, I can think of no one more qualified and ready to represent Iowa and the United States of America on the world stage than Gov. Branstad. His hands-on experience in advancing trade opportunities for Iowa farmers and Iowa companies coupled with his strong and lasting relationship with President Xi Jinping, as well as other leaders in China will serve him well in strengthening U.S.-China relations."

Reynolds was a first-term state senator when she was chosen by Branstad to be his running mate in 2010. During her six years as lieutenant governor, she has focused on economic development and education.

Information on the leadership transition at the Iowa statehouse will be forthcoming.

Source: Los Angeles Times