State Representative Todd Prichard spoke to a packed room at last night's Northwest Des Moines Democrats meeting. Now in his third term representing Floyd and Chickasaw counties in the Iowa House, Prichard is ranking member on the Agriculture Committee and also serves on Natural Resources, Veterans, and Ways and Means, as well as on an Appropriations subcommittee. Pat Rynard recently profiled the army veteran and former prosecutor who may run for governor in 2018.
I've transcribed most of Prichard's remarks from the Des Moines gathering below and uploaded the audio file, for those who want to listen. He speaks directly and fluidly without coming across as rehearsed or too polished, a common problem for politicians.
At one point, Prichard commented that Republicans didn't spend a million dollars trying to defeat him last year, as the GOP and conservative groups did against several Iowa Senate Democratic incumbents. Republicans tested some negative messages against him with a telephone poll in August, but apparently didn't sense fertile ground. Prichard's opponent Stacie Stokes received little help from her party, compared to some other GOP candidates for Iowa House seats, including a challenger in a nearby district.
Based on the speech I heard on Tuesday, I would guess that if Prichard runs for governor, Republicans may regret not spending a million dollars against him in 2016.
One more point before I get to the transcript: Prichard is living proof that retiring lawmakers should not be allowed to hand-pick their own successors. When State Representative Brian Quirk resigned to take another job soon after winning re-election in 2012, he wanted his former high school football coach Tom Sauser to take his place. As a Bleeding Heartland reader who's active in Floyd County described here, Prichard decided to run for the House seat shortly before the special nominating convention and barely won the nomination.
Prichard had a chance to start his political career because several days elapsed between his learning about Quirk's preferred successor and the House district 52 nominating convention. Too often, Iowa Democratic legislators announce plans to retire only a day or two before candidates must submit papers to the Secretary of State's Office. If Quirk had retired right before the March 2012 filing deadline, as three House Democrats did last year, his friend with the inside track would have been the only Democrat able to replace him. Nothing against retired teachers, but Sauser was not a potential future leader of the party, as Prichard is becoming.
Here's the audio of Prichard speaking to the Northwest Des Moines Democrats on February 21.
Former Congressional candidate Jim Mowrer introduced Prichard. Excerpts:
So I'm here to introduce to you today a very good friend of mine. He's a state representative, he's an attorney, he's a father, he's a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves. But I want to tell you about the Todd Prichard that I know. I met Todd in 2005. He was then Captain Prichard. I was Sergeant Mowrer. I was in Todd's--Todd was my company commander, and we were getting ready to deploy to Iraq. And as you might imagine, it was a very difficult time, but I got to see Todd up close and to see who he is. And we deployed to Iraq with the Iowa National Guard. It was a very trying deployment. 23 month-deployment from start to finish. There were some very difficult days. We didn't bring every Iowan home or every American home with us.
I've seen Todd under tremendous pressure. I've seen Todd in life-or-death situations. I've trusted Todd with my life. He is a tremendous leader. He has great judgment. He knows what his values are. He knows what's important. His entire career in one way or another has always been serving the people of Iowa. And right now, we've got a big fight ahead of us. Todd is a fighter. I've seen him fight, he's gonna keep fighting, he's a tremendous leader, and I trust him, and I'm glad to introduce my good friend Todd Prichard.
After thanking Mowrer, Prichard spoke for a little less than twenty minutes. My transcript:
I'm going to talk a little bit about a couple of things. One: I am considering a run for governor, and so this is part of that kind of due diligence for me, to get out and talk and to listen about what the issues are. And the encouraging thing for me is that, this type of activism, I see these crowds all over the state, and it's encouraging. Because what's happening in the statehouse right now--they're not our values, are they? They're not Iowa values, and [State Representative] Marti [Anderson] and [State Senator] Janet [Petersen] know that as well as I do. And you guys know that, and people are seeing that we're not valuing people and honest hard work. It's not valued here.
You know, I think that tweet, that showed the governor signing the gutting of collective bargaining, that tweet, where he signed it in private? I think that kind of says it all. You know, pictures say a thousand words, and that one probably said about ten [thousand].
So what I want to talk to you [about] a little bit tonight. I'm going to talk just a little bit about myself, because my name ID--if you read the [Des Moines] Register [Iowa poll], my name ID is low. So talk a little bit about myself and my background, and talk a little bit about what direction I think the party needs to go and what we need to talk about to get our base back, and where we need to focus our energy to get back in power. To get back to Terrace Hill, to get back in control of the Senate, to get back in control of the House, and we can reverse [interrupted by applause]-- we can stop this hemorrhaging of our values, and we can reverse this trend and take our state back.
So, a little bit about myself. I grew up in Davenport, Iowa, on the west end. If you know the west end, it's, it's kind of a badge of honor for us west-enders. We call ourselves west-enders. It's a very blue-collar, working-class part of the city. If you know anything about the Quad Cities and Davenport, you know that we used to be the Detroit of tractors, right? When I was a kid, we had Case, Caterpillar, we had International, and we had John Deere. About the only one left in a significant way is John Deere. That happened when I was a child in the 80s, when I was a teenager.
So in my neighborhood, everybody's dad worked at Alcoa, biggest aluminum mill in the world, [or] they worked at one of the tractor factories, or they worked at a foundry. They were people that wore work boots, they had sunburned faces, they had buff hands, they wore work coats to work, right? And my parents fit right in. My family fit in, even though my dad was a Republican. He did vote for Mondale. [laughter]
But my parents were carpet cleaners, and so we ran a carpet-cleaning service out of our house. And my job after school and in the summers was to lift buckets, carry the water to and from the machines. I was free labor for my folks. And my dad was kind of passionate about local politics. He wasn't a partisan--you know, he's 86, he'd probably be considered an Eisenhower Republican. But he was very passionate about local politics and local issues, and that rubbed off on me. And he didn't really care about money, so we didn't have a lot of money.
So I went to the University of Iowa, graduated high school from Davenport West. Usually the crowd will have like--is there anybody from Davenport West? [Some chatter with an alumnus and a former student teacher who identified themselves in the crowd, as well as someone who attended St. Ambrose, someone who went to Davenport Central, and someone from Muscatine, prompting Prichard to quip, "We've got to draw a line somewhere."]
So in '93 I graduated. I went to the University of Iowa and studied political science and history, and I joined the Army about halfway through, kind of decided--I'd always kind of wanted to serve, and I decided when I was a junior in college, I was gonna serve. And so I joined the Army. I went to basic training, and I enlisted. I remember how worried my mom was. "They're gonna send you to Bosnia! They're gonna send you to Bosnia!" If only they'd sent me to Bosnia.
So joined ROTC and I commissioned in the Army in 1998, and I spent three years on active duty, Fort Hood in Texas, First Cav [1st Cavalry Division]. If you've ever seen "Apocalypse Now," you remember Surf Team--that was my battalion, that was us. They wore the big yellow patch on the shoulder. And I really had an interesting view on the world. You know, you go overseas and you live in different parts of the country, and it really kind of opens your eyes. It opened my eyes to say I want to come back to Iowa, and that's where I wanted to raise my family is here. You see how good our public education was, how friendly our people are. This is the place where I wanted to be.
And I remember my first weekend back. I came back to start law school, went to law school in Iowa City. One of my first weekends back, me and a friend are canoeing on the Cedar River, outside of Davenport. Actually it was the Wapsi River, the Wapsipinicon. And--maybe I shouldn't tell this story--we canoed down a few miles, and then we were like, "How are we gonna get back?" And there was a couple fishing on the bank. And the lady said--we said, "Hey, can you give us a ride back to our car? It's about, about two miles upstream." She said, "You know what? Just take the keys." You know, she didn't know us from anybody, but she's--you know, I told myself, that's Iowa, and it's good to be home. This lady doesn't know me, but she trusts me with her car keys, to drive back. That's Iowa, right? That's Iowa nice.
Last week wasn't Iowa nice. It wasn't Iowa anything. It was Iowa garbage, is what it was.
It reminded me of a story, alright? So I'm gonna talk about Johnson School. I went to Johnson. [turns to fellow Davenport West grad] Did you go to Johnson? [He went to Williams elementary.] So I went to Johnson. Kind of right, kind of towards the center of Davenport, very working-class town. And I remember, like there'd be the school play, or a musical, right? Or there would be a sporting event. Remember when you were a kid, remember how your parents, or the parents of all your classmates would come, and they'd stand against the back of the wall in the auditorium, and they'd just beam with pride as they watched their children sing in the musical, or play the violin or something like that.
You know, in my community, in my neighborhood, they wore, like I said, you know, they worked at the factory. They wore work boots, blue jeans, they had work on their hands, and they had a sunburned face. Those are the people that I grew up around, that I respected. They raised families in Davenport. Those are the same people that came to the gallery [at the Capitol] last week, and they watched in probably tears, as their state government voted to take away their voice in the workplace.
People who stand on the side of the road, avoiding traffic to patch potholes, snowplow our roads, go into these homes to try to save a child in a bad situation, and they watched. They watched as out-of-state interests won that day, and people who work for a living lost. And they watched. And that's not right.
So here we are, right? These are dark times for a Democrat, right? We're a victim of what I call the trifecta. [voice in the audience: for human beings] You're right. You know, I saw a good sign [at the Capitol]: it said, "Worker rights are human rights." Why do we have to apologize for somebody who makes a decent working-class living? Why do we have to apologize for that? These people aren't overpaid. They're not. They're actually underpaid, if you do the comparison. I think the percentage is like 17 percent comparable.
So you know, these are dark times. We don't really control anything as Democrats. We don't really control any lever of power, right? We don't have the Senate, we don't have the House, we don't have the governor's office.
So at this point, I tell another story, because this brings to mind another story. It gets back into the Army. This is before Jim [Mowrer] and I were in Iraq. I was in the regular Army with the 1st Cav, right? And we got deployed in 2000 to Kuwait. And in 2000, you remember, this was before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Saddam Hussein is still in power [in Iraq]. And we were deployed, I think there were fifteen hundred or twelve hundred 1st Cav soldiers deployed to the northern desert of Kuwait. And our job was to be a deterrent force, and our job was to buy five days, right? So the Department of Defense had a plan of how to buy five days. Basically, they'd brief us on, that if the Iraqis attack, and they would outline on the map, you know, there's two divisions of Iraqis. We don't know quite how many thousands of Iraqis, but [it's] more than you have. There's Iraqis here. If they attack, this is what we think they're gonna do, and this is how we're gonna react, right? This is what we're gonna do.
So as all war stories go, I have to say, "So there I was." Right? I was 25 years old, I'm an infantry lieutenant, and I was responsible for 32 soldiers. So I had my marching orders from my higher headquarters. My bosses said, "That's what you're gonna do, Lieutenant. Get ready. In case, you know, in case it happens, get ready." So I go down to the tent where my soldiers are, and I have my five squad leaders and platoon sergeants, five NCOs [non-commissioned officers], sergeants, kind of like Jim. They're all older than me, you know, they're in their early 30s, or late 20s, or even, maybe mid-30s. All old guys, you know, to a 25-year-old. Ancient. And they all have families, right? And they have soldiers that they're responsible for, to bring home. That they've got to account for.
And so I say, "You know, this is what we're gonna do. This is what the Iraqis look like, and what may happen to us." I said, "This is what we do, and we're supposed to buy five days." They said, "Well sir, what if it doesn't work? What if five days isn't long enough? What if we don't get reinforced in five days from the United States? What if we're overwhelmed?"
And I've been in a lot of forums with constituents, but I've never been in one that tough, right? Because these soldiers are depending on me to have an answer. They're depending on me to get them home, right? So you kind of pause for a minute, because I wasn't waiting--I wasn't expecting that question. I thought they'd just kind of, see the plan and understand that it's gonna work. Well, what do we do if it doesn't work?
Well, we fight. We fight through it. And we don't give up. Because giving up and not going home and leaving soldiers behind is not an option.
We're in the same boat. Our backs are against the wall right now. Right? We don't know how many bills are going to come across the border in the next few weeks, but they're gonna ruin this state. And we're gonna fight. And that's what we're gonna do. And we're not going to give up.
And I can see that here, because that's why all you people are here on a Thursday [sic] night to hear some state representative who might run for governor from Charles City. Because we need somebody to fight. And if I run, that's what I'm gonna do.
Last story, ok? And it's where I think our message ought to go, and what I think we ought to be focused on to get back our voting base. And so, this story--some of you may have heard it--but it's a personal story. And when I was a kid, I--so I'll back up.
So I grew up in Davenport, about 13, 14 years old. I come home from school, and the house was empty, I'm the first one home. I beat my sister home and I beat my parents home. I'm sitting on the couch and I'm watching tv. And all of a sudden I had a really sharp pain, which I think now, I had kidney stones. If you've ever had that, it feels--it felt like an icepick, right? It felt like, just piercing pain. I was just--immobilized, right? I couldn't move. I literally could not get off the couch, I couldn't do anything.
And my parents come home, and they're like, "What's wrong with you? What's up?" And I said, "I don't know." And I was scared. I said, "I want to go to the doctor." And my dad was in anguish. You know how, as a parent, you see your child. He's just in anguish. He's, he's kind of upset, and he's just--I remember him pacing back and forth in the living room. And he goes to where he kept the checkbook. Remember those big checkbooks that had three pages? And he pulls the checkbook out, and he's like, he's going to take me to the doctor.
And my mom, who kind of ran the household, said that there's no money. There's no money to go to the doctor. We can't take him to the doctor. You know, that probably would have cost over a thousand dollars in the 80s. We didn't have that type of money, right?
And so I gutted it out. Right? I just toughed it out, and thankfully sometime in the night, it passed, right? And I always tell--you know, when I used to tell that story to friends and stuff, I would tell it from my perspective. You know, that I was in a lot of pain, and that really hurt, and it felt like an icepick.
But when I became a father--and I have three children--if you've ever been in an emergency room or a doctor's office with a child who's in pain or sick or suffering, is there a worse feeling as a parent? So then I rethought that story from my mom and my dad's perspective, right? And you think how hard that was for my dad. To watch his 13-year-old son, not know what's wrong, and not be able to do anything about it. Right?
Those people--my dad had no hope. We didn't have insurance, we didn't have money, we had no place to go. We lost those people in those situations in 2016, because we didn't deliver a message of hope. That no matter what happens, we as Americans, we as Iowans take care of each other. And we, we fight, and we have each other's back. And that there's going to be a way that you can raise your family and provide for your family. And at the end of the day, justice will prevail, right?
So, what I'm here to talk about, then, is a message of hope and fighting for that hope. And to give those working families, those Iowans across this state, who left us because we didn't provide hope, that hope that we're going to deliver for them.
And that's why, all of you activists here, it's so critical that you sign up new voters, that you door-knock, and in some cases you even donate, right? And we get out of the comfort zones. Because I can guarantee a couple of things. One: you guys are going to vote for these people, right? [gestures toward State Representative Marti Anderson and Senator Janet Petersen] But we can't guarantee that a Democrat's gonna win in districts not too far west of here and not too far east of here and north and south, right? So we need you to get out of your comfort zone a little bit and get out and hit the streets, and hold these people accountable and throw the bums out.
So that's my message, and I thank you all for letting me speak here.
Prichard took questions for nearly 40 minutes, starting around the 21-minute mark of the audio file posted above. I transcribed most of his responses. The first question was about how Democrats can overcome the big money the other side can spend during election campaigns.
Literally, that's the million-dollar question, right? I mean, we get outspent, what 3 to 1, 2 to 1 in some races. And then,this message--I mean, they [Republicans] tend to go negative first, right? And they hit you with this negative message.
One, we have to raise money, ok? That's just part of the deal. It costs money to advertise and get our message out. Two, we can combat that with a grass-roots effort. What's more powerful than you energized volunteers with truth on your side? I mean, the facts are on our side. Absolutely they're on our side. So we need to mobilize networks, we need to mobilize social media, we need to do all of the above, you know, for things that don't necessarily cost a lot. But we also need to play in that realm. I mean, there's just no question.
The next question was about how Democrats can compete with Republicans by reaching voters on an emotional level, instead of just talking about facts.
What we need to do as Democrats, and that's why I talk about getting back to what I consider kind of our base, working Iowans. You know, in my neighborhood, in the 80s, I mean, Republicans would lose 4 to 1, alright? And it's because those working Iowans, those families understood that Democrats were going to take care of their interests. They were looking out for them.
And so what our message has to be is that working Iowans--and I don't like saying "everyday Iowans," but just Iowans, right?--we are protecting your interests. We share your values, and we're protecting your interests. And the fact of the matter is, we do. You look at, you look at this Planned Parenthood debate. We own that issue. Collective bargaining. We own that issue. The facts are all on our side. Public education. Funding for community colleges. Job training. Regent universities. We own these issues, you know?
And these scare politics, which they love to play, you know? I was kind of at ground zero in my district, because I had Mary Jo Wilhelm, who was a fabulous senator. And what did they [do]--they ran all these fear, these negative ads that were just completely bogus. I'm not even going to describe them because they were just insulting. [The questioner interjected, that's why we lost, because Republicans played into those fears and emotions.]
But we didn't have an energized base, ok? And we didn't have a base that was coming to our aid, because they got kind of in doubt about what was really going on. And I think that if we can just--because I won. Even in this bad year, I was the only Democrat on my ballot to win. The reason I bring that up is because I didn't lose my base, right? I mean, I think the reason I won is that the people of Floyd and Chickasaw county realized that Todd is a hard worker, and Todd's taking care of us, and they identified with that. Right?
It probably helped that they didn't spend a million dollars to unseat me, you know, I can't take all of that credit, but--part of this game is luck too. But we've got to get back to our base. We've got to get--connecting on those values. That you can trust us to take care of you. That when your family or your job is in danger, and you need to be retrained, or you need assistance, we have your back. I just--we left too much doubt, and then they came in with this negative fear politics, and they took it over.
The fact of the matter is, we always are outspent, and we probably always will be outspent. But you know, we can still win, even if we don't have the biggest campaign budget. It's just a matter of connecting.
The next question was about how Democrats can get our message out to rural areas.
Well, those are my neighbors, right? I mean, I'm from Charles City. It's my adopted hometown. It's where I'm at. [...] Listen, Charles City is a lot like Davenport. Charles City had the first gasoline mass production tractor factory in I think the country, if not the world. And what they did in Charles City from like 1908 up until 1993 was build Oliver and then what became White tractors. Right? And then that industry went away, and then we've had to rebuild. So now we build Winnebagos, we have chemical plants, we--what else do we have? We have a tire factory. We're still a working-class, blue-collar labor market, right?
And what I noticed when I moved to Charles City, is that Charles City is just like the west end of Davenport. And then a few years ago, I was saying I was knocking on the south side [of Des Moines] for Representative Brian Meyer when he first got elected [in 2013]. The south side is really like Charles City, right? And these issues aren't so much urban and rural, as they are working family issues. If we can, if we can reach out to working family problems, right, people who are struggling paycheck to paycheck, we're going to, we're going to reach out to urban and rural. Because, you know, there still are farmers, but there's not as many farmers as there used to be 50 or 100 years ago. It's working-class, working family issues.
The next question was about the Bakken pipeline and whether farmers whose land was taken away through eminent domain can become our allies.
My mother grew up on a farm, my wife grew up on a farm, my father grew up in a farm business, and I worked as a child in the summers with my family, it was kind of the thing to do. And I help my father-in-law farm, I'm kind of his free help. And so, you would be surprised. I mean, I think there's a myth that all farmers vote Republican. It's not necessarily true. You know, and that issue in particular, with the pipeline, that's got a lot of, a lot of farmers talking about property rights, and how can I lose, how can this be taken away from me, things like that.
But I think when you, when you talk about reaching to--kind of like this gentleman's question here about farmers and rural areas, how do you reach them?--I really think it goes to just those basic pocketbook-type issues. And those working issues, those working family issues. Farming right now, you know, three, four years ago, it was just high. You know, grain prices were around $6 a bushel for corn. Now they're around $3.40, you know, and it's tough for farmers. And we need to be there and say, you know what? We're going to help you through this. [...]
The next question was about Republican dog-whistle politics, involving some racist appeals during the last campaign. "How should we address the issue of race, or should we address it at all?"
Head on. We address it head on. We address it head on. There's no room for that in this country. And that gets back to our values. What makes this country great but our diversity, right?
You know, my parents, or [rather] my ancestors came from Ireland and Germany. People came from all over the world, and that's what makes this country great. And those values are under attack, right? This isn't a sexist or racist society. We haven't--that's, our strength is our diversity. We attack it head on. No question, there's just no question.
The next question was about what we can do about the dark money influencing our politics.
What we do is we put light on it, right? [...] And it gets into this--I mean, the [U.S. Supreme Court's] Citizens United case, it's horrible, and I think we're dealing now with its results, you know. And what we do is we put light on this dark money, right? And we expose it. [...]
Prichard mentioned a recent forum in Mason City, where about 200 people showed up to talk with him, State Senator Amanda Ragan, and State Representative Sharon Steckman. Someone in the audience gave a short talk about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and how dark money groups are influencing the Republican agenda. Prichard said there was an audible gasp in the room when he commented that Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer is a past president of ALEC.
The next question was from a retired teacher, who suggested that employees of rural schools are a potential network of support for Democrats because of what Republicans have done on collective bargaining and school funding.
You know, my wife teaches. My wife is a talented and gifted teacher. She used to be a second-grade teacher in Van Meter, and she's been a talented and gifted teacher for second through eighth-graders in Charles City. And they're just in a panic, you know? Because they're texting me, they signed a contract an hour and a half before that picture was taken [when Governor Terry Branstad signed the collective bargaining law on February 17]. And thank God they did, right? But we've got the attention of these educators now. Because now, their livelihood, their profession, their ability to provide health care for their family is in danger. And that's a serious situation that will grab attention, right?
And what we need is not a flash-in-the-pan activism, because this isn't over. We need a slow-burn activism. [...] We've got to kind of fight this, what was that word we always said, that kills in Iraq? [looks back at Jim Mowrer, who says "complacency."] Complacency kills, right? Complacency. We need to be the stewards of this state.
Responding to the next question, which was about last year's election, Prichard commented that the top of the ticket affects the whole ticket, and that we need to remind Iowans of how much who controls the state legislature influences their lives more than what happens in Washington, DC.
The next question was about the "manufactured budget crisis"; for years, Republicans gave away the store in business tax breaks, so now we had to cut spending on basic services in the middle of the current fiscal year.
It's what I call, what you call in baseball an unforced error. This budget crisis is an unforced error. It's a self-inflicted crisis. It's manufactured, I think, just like you said. [...] The biggest culprit right now are these tax credits. [...]
I asked Representative [Pat] Grassley, who's the [House] Appropriations chair, I said, why are we taking all of these cuts out of social programs, human service-type programs? Because we made up this budget deficit that we're in, about 115 million dollars, we made it up by cutting things that help working families, right?
We took it away from Regents universities, we took it away from public education, we took it away--I mean, the most heartbreaking one, one of the most heartbreaking ones, we took it away from a program that assists families with their living expenses while they're treating for cancer. Alright? I mean, that's just cruel.
But we didn't even look at some of these tax credits that are out there. And we really don't know whether we're getting a return on investment from these tax credits. Because from a fiscal standpoint, a tax credit is really an expenditure. Right? It's a liability on the books. [...] We need to be making sure that the state is getting a good deal out of that credit.
I asked Prichard the next question, about how we keep newly-energized Democratic activists from becoming discouraged by all the defeats we will have during this legislative session. Prichard talked about how sometimes, when new people attend his public forums, they don't understand why he as the state representative can't just fix problems. They don't realize that you need to have the majority in the Iowa House and the Senate, as well as the governor's office.
It just gets back to this engagement, this continual engagement, that we're not gonna quit. We know, we're just, we're gonna fight the good fight this year, but we don't have the votes. You know? But we're gonna plant the flag, we're gonna stand where we believe, and we're gonna fight the good fight. And that's--we're going to lead by example that way, in the legislature.
And we just need to continue to say, "Elections matter, and we can change this." And if you want to see this change, then we need people to run who are good candidates for dog catcher, for city council, for supervisors, for conservation boards, for the House and for the Senate and for the governor's office, right? I mean, that's what it is, that's how we get this slow burn. It's just, you know, increasing readership of Bleeding Heartland and Starting Line. [gestured toward me and Pat Rynard, leading to laughter and applause for a first-class pander. "That was well played," commented Northwest Des Moines Democrats leader Sean Bagniewski. "Know your audience," someone else called out.]
Responding to the next question, about constituents contacting their state lawmakers, even if they aren't responsive, Prichard commented that Republicans in the legislature are getting challenged by newly active constituents at weekend forums, which hasn't happened before. He sees that trend as very positive, because it will make those lawmakers "think twice" about what they are doing. He also noted that Iowa Republicans who served in the legislature 20, 30, 40 years ago didn't try to destroy collective bargaining. They had the trifecta when the landmark law was enacted in 1974.
A few minutes later, Prichard emphasized again that although Democrats don't have the votes in the Iowa legislature to stop a lot of this year's bad bills, they will not go down quietly and will put up a big fight. He added in response to another questioner that Republicans aren't seeking any significant input from Democrats on any public policy this year.
Answering the final question, Prichard referenced John Stuart Mill's concept of the "marketplace of ideas," and said Democrats need to fight so that "these bad [Republican] ideas die." In closing, he urged the audience to stay active, because turning around the politics of this state will be "a marathon, not a sprint."
UPDATE: Brad Anderson sent a number of reporters this message on February 23:
I wanted to let you know that I’ve agreed to help my friend state Rep. Todd Prichard (D-Charles City) with any media inquiries and opportunities as he considers a run for governor. It’s no secret that he is interested in running and as someone who knows Todd well I personally hope he does. Todd is one of the most decent people I’ve ever met in this business and understands the challenges facing Iowa, especially rural Iowa, better than just about anyone.
[...] Obviously this is going to be an important, exciting governor’s race coming up and I look forward to helping Todd win any way I can. Also, I refuse to let Tim Albrecht have all the fun every cycle.