If you haven't had a chance to hear directly from the Democrats running for governor, Bleeding Heartland has you covered with audio and highlights from the speeches at Thursday night's big Hall of Fame event in Des Moines.
About 650 activists turned out as the party honored nine people for their political involvement. Sometimes, a nationally known figure headlines this annual event. This year, speeches by six gubernatorial candidates and Ann Prichard (standing in for her husband while he's on a foreign deployment) were the big draw for many attendees.
I enclose below audio clips and highlights from those remarks, in the order the candidates spoke. As a bonus, I've also included other speeches, including State Senator Matt McCoy's thoughts on how Iowa Democrats can come back after the party "took a beating in the last election cycle."
THE CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR
State Senator Nate Boulton's campaign showed up in force, holding a rally outside the venue before the event and reserving about ten tables for supporters who cheered and waved "thunder sticks." The campaign also put up many signs and projected the candidate's image onto walls along the hallway leading to the event.
Audio of Boulton's speech:
Boulton talked about his background and how many of his relatives still live in or near Columbus Junction (Louisa County), where he grew up. He then listed the horrible ways Republicans have exercised control over state government: "making a mess of our state budget" with big corporate tax giveaways, underfunding schools, closing mental health institutions, privatizing Medicaid, gutting collective bargaining and cutting "benefits for Iowans injured on the job," defunding Planned Parenthood.
Boulton also issued the evening's first direct challenge to Governor Kim Reynolds, which became one of his speech's biggest applause lines:
Even Kim Reynolds knows she messed up. In her first address as governor, she pointed out problems in education and tax policy, as if those problems just fell from the sky the moment she was sworn in.
No, no, no: she was a full partner to this agenda, and we're going to make sure she owns it in 2018.
He talked about being proud to stand with Iowans during the legislative session, staying on the Senate floor all night until Republicans cut off debate (for the first time in the chamber's history) on the collective bargaining bill. He's also proud of standing up for people during twelve years as a workers' rights attorney.
Boulton then shifted gears.
But if we are going to win, we have to do more than talk about the things that we are against. We have to talk about that positive vision forward for our state. Think about what Iowa could look like if we get back to doing the things that makes us proud of Iowans. Think about what it means to have a vision for the next 20 years, not just the next 20 months. Think about what it means if we get away from the economic quicksand of their corporate giveaways, if we know and value our real economic strength: our people, the most skilled, educated, and productive workforce in the world.
While they hand out corporate coupons, we'll market to Iowa's strength, making sure that we have that skilled, reliable workforce ready to meet the challenges of a changing economy, and where every worker is worth $15 an hour.
Think about what it means for Iowa's future if we fully fund education, treat teachers like the professionals they are, make sure they are valued in our classroom so we can recruit the next generation of teachers. So no matter where you grow up or who your parents are, you have the opportunity to succeed in our state because of a quality Iowa public education.
Speaking quickly so as not to go over his time limit, Boulton wrapped up with these lines:
Make no mistake about it: this is a fight for the soul of our state, and we must win it in 2018. And we'll do it by highlighting the things that make us proud to be Iowans: leading the nation in education, a strong and productive workforce, safe and secure communities. I'm running for governor because I'm a proud Iowan, and together we will win this fight for the soul of our state. Thank you very much.
John Norris was the second gubernatorial candidate to speak. Audio:
Near the beginning, he thanked his wife Jackie Norris for her love and support, adding, "we're a twofer." Many Iowa Democratic activists know Jackie, especially through her work on Barack Obama's campaign before the 2008 caucuses and during that year's general election.
Norris is not the most fiery speaker, but his remarks were an extended call to action.
All of you and everyone who comes to this podium tonight are angry about what Kim Reynolds and the Republicans have done to our state. This past legislative session was an assault on workers, an abandonment of children, disrespectful to women, and neglectful to our environment. But anger alone will not move our state forward.
We must connect with Iowans, with the values that make Iowa great, and a policy agenda that gives Iowa workers and families hope for a better future. We must inspire and organize around our values-based agenda and contest for power. Contest for power with the wealthy special interests and corporate lobbyists that control our politics and government today. Contest for power against the wealthy special interests that Kim Reynolds represents, that are not Iowa values. When she flies around in a corporate jet with a wealthy donor, she erodes our faith in government.
I frankly think that, I think she's more interested in being first on the Koch brothers Christmas list than Iowa being first in education.
Then Norris moved to the evening's only barb at a fellow Democratic candidate. He didn't name names, but these lines (which drew some applause) were universally understood to be directed at Fred Hubbell, whose campaign revealed that they have already raised $1 million. (I have asked for but not received further details, such as the number of donations, the size of the largest donation, how many gifts exceeded $50,000, and how much of the haul came from Hubbell relatives.)
Politicians who flout [flaunt] the influence of money and tout the size of campaign war chests are out of touch with Iowans. We must inspire and organize to contest for power by fighting against the power grip that money has on our government and politics today.
Ours is a fight for the people. It is a march for justice and opportunity for every Iowan. Ours is a fight to inspire hope for Iowans like the thousands of women who marched on this Capitol this year.
Norris then recounted many protest marches he's attended, from joining his parents at the state Capitol to oppose Richard Nixon, to marching for environmental justice with Cesar Chavez in California, to marching with Paul Wellstone at the "battle of Seattle" (the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in 1999). He recalled marching for economic and racial justice with Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition.
When Norris ran for Congress in 2002, he rarely if ever mentioned that he had managed Jackson's 1988 Iowa caucus campaign. Now it has become a staple of his stump speech to recall how some insiders warned him he was going to be finished in Democratic politics. Yet just ten years later, he was chosen to lead the state party and helped elect Iowa's first Democratic governor in more than three decades.
As chief of staff for Governor Tom Vilsack, he was involved in helping Iowa become a leader in renewable energy. Norris added, "Jackie and I were proud to march with Barack Obama who changed the course of America, [and] brought the hope of health care to all Americans."
As the organizers began to play music to get him off the stage, Norris appeared to cut out some of his planned material. He wrapped up with this passage:
When justice calls us to march, Democrats must answer the call. We must inspire and engage, and we must contest for power. Together, together we must bring Iowa values to the fight for a livable wage, and to freedom for workers to negotiate just like every CEO negotiates for their wages. And I'm running out of time.
Let me just say: if we will fight for livable wages, if we will fight for health care, if we will fight for public education, fight for workers' rights, we will win because we deserve to win for the people we stand up for as Democrats.
This is a march for our future. This is a march to contest for power. This is a march for people to take back this state. I ask you to join me in that march, I ask you to work with me for justice for Iowans.
Dr. Andy McGuire spoke next. Audio:
McGuire began by referencing President Donald Trump's mean-spirited and discriminatory tweets on transgender service in military, drawing applause and cheers by adding, "I hope we're all allies." (Later, LGBT advocate Nate Monson commented on Facebook that he was sorry only one candidate mentioned the issue during the Hall of Fame speeches. "Our community is under attack and our candidates seemed unaware of the hurt, fear, and frustrations our community is facing. I am so disappointed in our other candidates who failed to say 'I see you.'")
McGuire explained why she's running for governor: to make sure her kids and grandkids have opportunities to stay in Iowa. She described her childhood in Waterloo and the values she learned from her parents, such as helping those in the community who needed support. "That's why I became a doctor: because I wanted to care for people, especially when they were hurt or sick."
Traveling to all 99 counties of Iowa during the past two years (McGuire was Iowa Democratic Party chair in 2015 and 2016), talking to people in their homes or coffee shops,
I'm hearing that they don't feel like they're getting a fair shake. They don't feel like they're getting ahead for their families. They feel like the Branstad/Reynolds administration has put profits ahead of people.
Well, I want to change that. I want to be a leader who's for all Iowans. I want to be a leader--I've cared for people my whole life. I want to care about the success of every Iowan. That's the kind of governor I want to be.
And I'll tell you, I hear a lot about health care. And as a doctor, I want to make sure you all know where I stand: health care is a right, not a privilege.
That was the biggest applause line of her speech. McGuire went on to describe the pain and disruption caused by Branstad's privatization of Medicaid, which covers roughly 600,000 vulnerable people. "When I'm governor, no mother will have to worry about access to care for their children."
Several candidates touched on Iowa's poor mental health care system last night, but McGuire gave that issue the most extended treatment.
And I've talked to families who are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse and addiction. You know, we're 50th in mental health beds. We're 47th in mental health providers, and we've actually made our police really be our first-line medical, our mental health care people. So, is that what we want? [many people in the audience shouted "No!"] Exactly.
We take care of our mental health patients in ERs and in jails, two of the most expensive and worst places to take care of someone in crisis. We need to prevent the crisis by having the resources people need for up-front counseling. That's what we need to do in Iowa.
McGuire has long been an active Planned Parenthood supporter. She ripped Republicans for decisions that forced clinics serving some 15,000 Iowans to close recently. She promised that she will restore state funding to the organization on her first day in office. (I don't know how, now that Republicans have enacted a law barring family planning funding for organizations that provide abortion services.)
McGuire discussed the problems of school underfunding and disrespect for teachers next, saying, "We should be champions of education." Her closing passage:
You know, education is the great equalizer. It lifts everyone up and makes everyone a success, and that's why I'm going to make sure I'm the education governor.
So as a mother of seven and one grandchild, I gotta tell you, I want all of our children and our grandchildren to succeed. I want to be the state that has good medical care. I want to be the state that doesn't have someone who has to work two jobs, and can't get--and has minimum wage and can't get $15 an hour, which it ought to be.
I want to be the state where we have good education, that we have people moving to our state for. That's the governor I want to be, that's the vision I see, thank you all for letting me be here tonight.
Fred Hubbell's campaign was also a vigorous participant in the "sign wars" leading to the event, and had purchased ten or twelve tables. His supporters were enthusiastic and easy to identify, thanks to their green t-shirts with the slogan, "Corn Fed, Iowa Bred, Voting For Fred."
Audio of Hubbell's speech:
He began by noting that he's attended many Iowa Democratic Party events over the years but never been a speaker before: "This is a very different feeling. But you know what, it's pretty exciting, because we've got a great group of Democratic candidates for governor, and we're going to win that election."
Hubbell recounted some family history and highlights of business career, managing companies founded by his great-great-grandfather: the Younkers department store chain and Equitable Life of Iowa. Later he worked in the public sector, chairing the board of the Iowa Power Fund during Governor Chet Culver's administration, helping "Iowa to become a leader in renewable energy and renewable fuels for the future."
Then I was asked by the governor to take over the Iowa Department of Economic Development, because we had a film tax credit scandal, and it was costing Iowans millions of taxpayer dollars. I went in there, and we fixed that up.
He then recalled meeting his wife, Charlotte Hubbell, during law school at the University of Iowa. They moved to Des Moines and raised their kids, who attended public schools: "they got a great education in Iowa," and they were proud of that.
But you know what? When I traveled around the state last week, a lot of workshops all across the state, I had a student up at UNI tell me that she has to work four jobs just to pay tuition. I had a teacher here in Des Moines say that she struggles to accomplish what she wants as a teacher because so many kids come to school with empty stomachs, they can't concentrate, they can't sit down and pay attention.
Then there was the father up in northwest Iowa whose son lost his favorite teacher because he moved to Minnesota, that teacher did, for better pay and better benefits and bargaining rights, because he lost them in Iowa. That's what the legislature and the governor are doing to all of us all across Iowa. They're hurting our economy, and they're passing a lot of legislation that is undermining the core values of what have built our state.
That's not acceptable. I can't sit on the sidelines any longer and let this continue. That's why I'm running for governor. We need to change this. We need to take back our state.
The stakes are very important, folks. We need to change the priorities. We need to invest in good jobs with higher incomes for more people in more places all across our state. We need to invest in better job training and better education for everybody. We need to make sure that Iowa provides access to good quality health care to everybody in our state, and that we preserve our topsoil while protecting our water quality.
Hubbell commented that it's going to take a "strong ground game" all across Iowa to win next year's election, and build strong county Democratic parties. When he ran the economic development office, the state invested in people and training to make businesses successful. "That's how it works, from the ground up."
Hubbell then called on everyone to go down to Fairfield during the next couple of weeks. He and his wife will be knocking doors for Dr. Phil Miller, the Democratic candidate for the Iowa House district 82 special election.
As the music came on, signaling that Hubbell's time was running out, he finished up as follows:
I have spent my life, my career, as a job creator all over central Iowa and other parts of Iowa, building community for a lot of people all across our state. And at the same time, when I've been asked to help in the public sector, to help out agencies that needed support, or to fix jobs, I've volunteered to do that.
Paul Wellstone once said, if you really believe in what you believe, you should be willing to fight for it. And if you're not willing to fight for it, then you probably don't believe in it. I'm here to tell you: I believe in fighting for Iowa. I believe in fighting for Iowa. And if we work together, we can bring back our Iowa and make it grow again. Thank you.
Jon Neiderbach joked about his "Iowa accent" near the beginning of his speech:
Neiderbach grew up in New York before coming to Iowa as a Grinnell College undergraduate 43 years ago.
In 2014, Neiderbach was the Democratic nominee for state auditor--in case people in the audience were wondering why he's running for governor now, he noted that Paul Wellstone ran for state auditor before his first successful campaign for U.S. Senate.
If you listened to the music when I walked up to [the stage], Ani DiFranco singing, "Which Side Are You On?" I can't think of any time when that question is more relevant. Do we believe that health care is a right? [audience members: yes!]
Do we believe that we have to fight for our environment? [Yes!]
Do we believe that we must do something to make Iowa number 1 in mental health, not number 50? [Yes!]
And do we believe that we have to fight for working people, restoring Chapter 20, making it easier to organize labor unions? [applause, cheers]
Reduce taxes, our tax structure that currently taxes low- and moderate-income people more than the very rich? Do we believe those things? [Yes!]
I think everybody here knows we do. Quite honestly, I don't know that everybody out there knows we do.
Neiderbach recalled a recent visit to Independence, when a woman struck up a conversation with him. After he explained he was running for governor, she asked, "Who are you for?" He didn't know what she meant at first: "Are you talking about who I supported in past elections?" "No," she said, "Who are you for?" Finally she clarified, "Are you for money, or are you for me?"
Many people believe the system is rigged. And it isn't just our campaign system, it's our actual government. [...]
We need to change our government, get rid of the old system. We need an entirely new politics. We need an entirely new governmental structure. If you're interested in big changes, I ask for your vote.
Neiderbach closed (right on time without the music coming on) by informing the audience that there were 231 days left until the June 2018 primary: "There's a long time left to look at all the candidates. Please keep an open mind. We're going to have a very, very interesting campaign. I ask for your support. Thank you very much."
Speaking on behalf of State Representative Todd Prichard, who is on a U.S. Army Reserve deployment to Bulgaria until mid-August, Ann Prichard got a big laugh by opening her remarks with, "Good evening. My name is Ann Prichard, and I'm running for governor! Just kidding."
When Prichard explained that her husband was serving in Bulgaria, the audience applauded for so long that she asked people to sit down so she wouldn't go over her five minutes.
The Army has played a big role in our fifteen years together. We got married, he left for Egypt. We had our first daughter, he went to Iraq. So when people ask me how I handle it when he's gone so much campaigning, I think, "Well, he's in the state. It's not Anwar Province."
Todd Prichard is a lieutenant colonel with 22 years of military service.
If you ask him, he can tell you about weapons and tanks and IED's and scary experiences and sad memories, things that are completely foreign to my life.
But I don't think that bravery is isolated to war zones. There are different ways to be fearless. I remember we once sat for a family photo, and Todd was running late. And on this particular occasion, he was late because he'd been at the bedside of a dying woman who wanted to make a will.
Gotta say, that is like the worst family photo ever taken. Nobody looks good in that photo. But I like it, because it reminds me that Todd wasn't afraid to see human suffering. He didn't rush, and he didn't turn away. He did what he could to ease her mind.
Traveling the state as a candidate for governor, "he's witnessed the hardships of everyday Iowans. He doesn't turn away, and he doesn't forget."
Ann Prichard then said her husband and asked her to say a little about herself. She grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa. They raised corn and beans and cattle. During the farm crisis of the 1980s, there were times when she didn't have enough money for school lunch, and she would cover by telling the lunch lady that she had forgotten to tell her parents.
Now I teach in a district where over 50 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and I wonder: when school is cancelled because of bad weather, do those kids have food at home?
Ann Prichard belongs to the teachers union and talked about contract negotiations and the impact of budget cuts on her school. When there's less money, "everyone fights for the scraps," damaging relationships and goodwill. If Todd Prichard becomes governor, he will issue an executive order on his first day restoring public employee collective bargaining rights, and he will fight for 4 percent "allowable growth" (increase in state funding for K-12 schools). She also mentioned Prichard's proposal to provide tuition-free community college.
As the music came on, Prichard closed out:
Oh man, I talk slower than I thought. I'm going to say the last part here. It's nice to be here tonight. We may not all know each other, but the fact that we are here tells me that we have a lot in common. We are Democrats. We speak up for those who have been silenced, and for those who haven't found their voices yet. We identify the problems in our state, and we demand change. And the music has told me I'm done, thank you very much.
Cathy Glasson got straight to the point in the opening line of the final candidate speech: "The insiders. The CEOs. The billionaires. For too long, it's been their time. But now, it's our time." Audio:
For the past eight weeks, I've driven across our state listening to Iowans. Iowans who are ignored and forgotten, left out and hurting.
They keep hearing Kim Reynolds say our economy is great. But great for who? Not for the 381,000 households struggling to afford their monthly expenses. Not for Iowans working two and three low-paying jobs to pay the rent. And not for 85,000 Iowans who were on a path to a higher minimum wage until Republican politicians lowered their pay to seven dollars and 25 cents.
I'm tired of working people in this state getting beat up. Tonight it's time to send a message to the corporate lobbyists who pull the Republican strings, to the bosses and billionaires who have been dictating the agenda in Des Moines for too long. Your days of controlling our state are numbered. It's our time.
We need a bold, progressive movement to win back Iowa. So who's going to rise up?
Glasson mentioned several people who were at the Hall of Fame event. Angelica Serrano, a mother of three who has worked at a McDonald's restaurant in Des Moines for nineteen years, "organized her co-workers to go on strike because she believes everyone deserves a a living wage."
Angelica is standing up for her rights and the fight for 15. We must raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour! It's going to happen, because workers like you, Angelica, have waited for years. And they can't wait any longer for politicians and employers to do the right thing. It's our time.
Glasson mentioned the 184,000 public workers who lost their collective bargaining rights, including her friend Theresa Myers, a proud union member from Waterloo.
She's committed to fighting side by side with me to make it easier for all Iowans to join a union or workers' association, not just in the public sector, but no matter where you work. It's our time.
Right now half the waterways tested in our state are polluted. Industrial farms and big agriculture have a stranglehold on the governor's office. But committed environmentalists like [Des Moines Water Works CEO] Bill Stowe, who's with us tonight, have been fighting for quality drinking water in our communities. I'm ready to work with Bill and other advocates to make clean water the birthright of every Iowan. Because it's our time.
As a registered nurse, Glasson knows that many people don't get the health care they need, especially in rural communities. She mentioned two women, Alex and Laura, who organized 100 people to march in Burlington against defunding Planned Parenthood.
But the problem goes much deeper than Planned Parenthood. Iowans aren't getting the health care they need, because insurance companies and their Republican henchmen put profits before people. We need Medicare for all. If the federal government won't deliver--and it's not going to--we need to develop our own plan for universal health care right here in Iowa.
The music started playing, so Glasson wrapped up quickly.
So tonight, my fellow Iowa Democrats, it's our time. We can't settle for half-measures if we want to win. It's time to push for big, new ideas. Together we can fight for bold, progressive change, and a better future for our working people. We can lead the nation, and make sure Democrats win, and it starts here in 2018. A bold, progressive change. It's our time! Rise up, stand up, join the movement! I'm Cathy Glasson, and that's why I'm running for governor. Thank you.
UPDATE: For several days, Glasson's campaign promoted the video of this speech on Facebook.
Former Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn did not speak at the Hall of Fame event, but he has said he is exploring a Democratic campaign for governor as well.
I'm including the audio from several other speeches that many Bleeding Heartland readers would want to hear. Newly-elected Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price opened the program:
This passage caught my attention:
About six months ago, people were writing the obituary of the Iowa Democratic Party. Pundits, talking heads, certainly our friends in the Republican Party, and even some Democrats were saying that our party was weak, that we would never be able to win again, we would never be able to come back. Well, tonight, all of us in this room are here to say with one voice, the Democratic Party is not going anywhere. We are gonna get to work, and we are going to win in 2018.
You have all these folks say, hey, you don't have a bench. Yet tonight you are going to hear from seven of our great gubernatorial candidates. And we are seeing spirited primaries and great candidates running all across our state for seats from Congressional seats, to statewide office, county board of supervisors, county councils, city councils, school boards, and all sorts of tickets that are going to be on the ballot. We have a fantastic bench out there. Don't let anyone tell you any different. [...]
They said there isn't any energy in the party right now. But I can tell you this, as I have ran for this position over the last three and a half weeks, I have traveled from Sioux City to Davenport. Every place I went--I've stopped in a lot of towns in between there too--and every place I went, I saw first-hand excited Democrats who are working tirelessly right now to find new and innovative ways to move our party forward.
So yes, our party faces some challenges. There's no question about that. We're going to be having conversations about that over the coming weeks, about how we move our party forward, how we rebuild our party. How we come up with a new coordinated campaign that's going to elect people from the bottom of the ticket up. We're going to be having those conversations. But there's one thing that I can tell you tonight: our party is ready to get to work to find the solutions to the challenges we face.
One of the most thankless jobs at any Democratic Party event is giving the "pass the hat" speech. Nobody does it better than Kurt Meyer:
A couple of my favorite moments:
Here's why we do this: first of all, we accept the fact that successful parties require funds. Truth be told, unsuccessful parties also require finds. The key difference: generally successful parties have more funds than unsuccessful parties. [...]
My dear friend Senator Rob Hogg takes short, cold showers to confront climate change, bless his heart. And asks us to join him--not in the shower, but in doing more! That's engaged leadership.
Norm Sterzenbach Jr., a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party, spoke on behalf of his father Norm Sterzenbach Sr., who was honored with the outstanding supporter award. The father sat alongside his son on stage. A few hours later, he passed away peacefully in his sleep. The speech:
Norm Sterzenbach Sr. came to Iowa to work for Rockwell Collins, joined the union, becoming business manager of his local and an advocate for IBEW at the statehouse. He's volunteered for Iowa Democratic candidates all up and down the ticket for decades and has served on county, district, and state central committees.
Talking to those who have known his father,
Many people talked about how he’s a mentor to activists, volunteers and staff — particularly young people getting involved for the first time. He guides first-time candidates, helps get new people involved in the party, and always makes sure campaign staff know the lay of the land and have what they need to be successful in his county.
Everyone noted that he doesn't always speak, but when he does, it's short, to the point, and people listen. [...]
But the thing I heard most often, and the thing that stands out to me, is that no job was too big or too small for him. He always says yes when he's asked, he shows up and does the work when no one is watching, never concerned about getting credit. [...]
But the most appropriate thing I heard was simply, "He made a difference." And I think that sums up his contribution more than anything I could say.
But I do want to end on a personal note. The theme tonight is why I'm proud to be an Iowa Democrat. And for me, that is easy. I'm proud to be an Iowa Democrat because of my father. Not because of what he says, because he never speaks, but because of his example.
I've watched him advocate for workers while I was growing up. He taught me about the labor movement. He taught me the strength of organizing and the power of solidarity. I watched him volunteer, doing many, many small, often unrecognized jobs for the union and the party.
I remember him screen-printing barn signs for candidates I'd never heard of--not because yard signs vote or influence elections, but because he knew they meant a lot to the person who was proudly displaying them in their yard.
My dad taught me a lot of big things, but he also taught me the importance of small things. I'm an Iowa Democrat because of the example my father set, and I couldn't be more proud. He made a difference to me and so many others. Thank you, Dad, for all that you've done for our party, and thanks to the Iowa Democratic Party for honoring a great volunteer, and an even better person.
Shortly before the Hall of Fame event miraculously ended on time around 8:00 pm, State Senator Matt McCoy spoke for about ten minutes after being recognized as the "outstanding elected official" for 2017.
You know, it occurred to me, I've been a legislator for 25 years. That's longer than many of the people back at the Boulton table have been alive. I can even remember when we used to go to these things and they would feed us dinner. I'm all about economy and saving money.
Democrats have always been and always will be the party that has pushed people to do the right thing. The party of big ideas. The party that lifts people up. We're also the party that took a beating in the last election cycle. Across our state and our nation, we saw people vote against their own economic self-interest, and give in to simple solutions to complex problems.
In Iowa, Republicans campaigned by inventing stories and lies and pouring millions of dollars from special interests and the Koch brothers into local legislative races. These special interests and dark money helped Republicans get the majority in the Iowa Senate [...].
McCoy then recited some of the things Republicans did with their legislative majorities in 2017, and particularly mentioned the budget policies that led to job cuts in "critical areas like human services."
And I want to go on record today: Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds eliminated 1135 employees since 2010 at the Department of Human Services. As a result of that, children are dying in our state. Make no mistake about it. Tomorrow, you'll read about another couple, that were foster parents and adoptive parents to nine disabled children. They were arrested today, tonight, with more than 68 police calls that have been into their home dealing with these nine adopted, special-needs children.
This is a result of what happens when you cut government beyond the bone. And that's where we're at right now with the department of Human Services. And Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds and the Republican legislature own it.
That Des Moines Register story by Lee Rood is here.
McCoy went on to discuss the "absolutely stunning" Republican fiscal mismanagement of the state, which will soon require a special legislative session. He also referred to the $2.2 million verdict in a lawsuit filed by a former Senate Republican staffer, "because of Republican leadership, or lack thereof, and their bad behavior in the workplace."
McCoy briefly discussed his proposal to make Medicaid available to all who need health care.
We need to act as a state, a sovereign state, because these fools in Washington are not going to get anything done. And if we're going to protect Iowans, we need to step up.
We need to pass a minimum wage of $15 an hour. And then when we do that, we need to attach a cost of living index to the minimum wage, so that we don't go decades without giving people a raise.
We need to provide trade schools and higher education for middle-class kids. The state should immediately set up a program right now to help students refinance their student loans at favorable rates after attending trade schools, community colleges, or Regents institutions.
McCoy described Democrats' "core values" including hope, opportunity, and big ideas.
We are not timid people who fear change. We don't need to change who we are to meet people where they are. But we must meet people, and we will meet them. People want to know if we understand their struggles, and if we do, what are we going to do about it?
How willing are we as candidates to push the powers of influence to enact our agenda? Do we have the courage to lead and promote policies that help struggling Iowa families?
The first thing we should do is we should listen. Listen to what everyday Iowans are facing.
He then discussed some new efforts to reach Iowans through various online forums, which began in January to inform people about what was happening during the legislative session. Thousands of people are engaged and ready to "speak truth to power."
The Republican budget that was passed is a moral document. It demonstrates what they value and who they value, and who they will protect. Their budget is our roadmap to a new Democratic majority.
McCoy believes Democrats can win back the Iowa House and Senate and win next year's governor's race. His closing lines:
We will make history as the biggest political comeback ever. You know, last year Republicans rolled back our rights as Iowans. They rolled back our wages. In 2018, we take back Iowa, and we roll back their majorities. Thank you all very much, have a great night.
Top image: Cropped photo of the July 27 Hall of Fame event, posted on the Iowa Democratic Party's Twitter feed.