To all the Democrats who want to hear directly from each contender in the Iowa governor’s race before deciding how to vote next June: this post’s for you.
All seven Democrats running for governor appeared at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Des Moines on September 10, speaking in the following order: Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, John Norris, Ross Wilburn, Jon Neiderbach, Andy McGuire, and Nate Boulton. I enclose below the audio clips, for those who like to hear a candidate’s speaking style. I’ve also transcribed every speech in full, for those who would rather read than listen.
As a bonus, you can find a sound file of Brent Roske’s speech to the Progress Iowa event at the end of this post. With his focus on single-payer health care and water quality, Roske should be running in the Democratic primary. Instead, he plans to qualify for the general election ballot as an independent candidate, a path that can only help Republicans by splitting the progressive vote.
CATHY GLASSON: IOWANS ARE “READY TO RISE UP FOR BOLD, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE”
Glasson got the crowd going as the last gubernatorial candidate to speak at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event in July. She was first up on a hot and sunny afternoon at the Simon Estes Amphitheater in downtown Des Moines.
How are you doing, corn feed? I don’t hear you out there: how are you doing?
I want to thank [Progress Iowa leader] Matt [Sinovic] and all the sponsors of a great Corn Feed. And we have a beautiful day here in Iowa, but I want to take a minute, because on our beautiful day here, there [are] millions of Americans who are suffering today. And I want to start by acknowledging our brothers and sisters who are going through their own life and death situation in Florida, and the families starting to recover in Texas, and the Oregonians who have been struggling to contain wildfires in their state.
We’ve seen big parts of our country literally getting ripped apart by these storms and climate-related disasters. But our country, torn open by Mother Nature, we’ve seen America’s heart. The Florida man who gave up the last generator at a Home Depot store because he met a woman who needed it more than he did. Because her father needed oxygen and life-sustaining equipment. The Texans that we all saw, in their kayaks, their fishing boats, their rowboats, rescuing their neighbors, risking their own lives to make sure no one in their community was left behind.
You know, as an intensive care unit nurse, I’ve watched with pride my fellow nurses, doctors, hospital workers, and first responders who stand in the eye of the storm to give all of their neighbors a fighting chance. And we’ve also witnessed the decency and the humanity of our fellow Iowans right here, sending food and supplies to Houston for the dogs and the cats who are homeless and hurt. Sending water and essential supplies to families who have lost everything. Heading down to those states to volunteer at shelters. And medical personnel driving over 15,000 miles to answer the call for help.
Through all of this we are all reminded why government and public service matters. [applause] That fully funding our health and human services saves lives. Let’s face it, folks: you can’t privatize a disaster.
While we’re fighting back in Iowa against an attack on our public workers, we’re seeing in this crisis that those workers are true public servants. Public employees are the home-town heroes who really make America great. And if we want them to be there for us, we need to be there for them.
My name is Cathy Glasson, and I believe that the number one job of a governor is to raise wages and improve the standard of living for all Iowans. [applause] And let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen: this governor, Kim Reynolds, isn’t getting that job done very well.
We have 381,000 households in our state that struggle to pay their monthly bills. And two-thirds of the jobs in our state pay less than 20 dollars an hour. The unemployment rate may be low, but the misery index is high.
I’ve been traveling our state. Whether it’s from Dubuque to Moravia, from Milford, Iowa to Keokuk, Iowa. And what I’ve been listening to Iowans and hearing over and over, is that they feel forgotten and left out. Left behind by a rigged economy that hasn’t worked for them and their families for decades. Cheated by politicians who are bought and paid for by big corporations and CEOs. Hurt by a health care system that costs too much, cares too little, and puts profits at the top before patients every single time.
You know, the Iowans I’m listening to are sick and tired of getting beat up. And they’re ready to rise up for bold, progressive change in 2018. They don’t want half measures. They want big, bold, new ideas to move our state forward.
They’re ready to rise up for $15 minimum wage. They’re ready to rise up for expanded union rights. They’re ready to rise up for universal, single-payer health care. And they’re ready to rise up for clean water, safe communities, and a solid, quality public education for our teachers and our kids K through 12 and higher education.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can win in 2018 if we listen to Iowa and build a bold, progressive future together. My name is Cathy Glasson, that’s why I’m running for governor. Join the movement. Thank you. [applause]
FRED HUBBELL: “PUT THE MONEY BEHIND THE PEOPLE, NOT BEHIND THE FAILED TAX BREAKS”
Hubbell started his speech by joking that he thought the big “Corn Feed” banner was a typo for “corn fed”–a reference to his campaign’s green t-shirts featuring the slogan “Corn Fed, Iowa Bred, Voting For Fred.”
So ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for being here today. It’s a nice beautiful day–it is a little warm, so thank you for taking your time to be with us. I too just want to remind everybody: right here [the Simon Estes Amphitheater] in 1993, this was underwater. Under a lot of water.
And in 2008, Cedar Rapids, the whole river, the whole downtown was underwater. And those folks in California and Texas and Florida, they helped us out. So we need to think about them, and we need to help them out. So I encourage you to contact Red Cross and other groups. [applause]
So I actually am a fifth-generation Iowan. My great, great grandfather came here at the age of 16, just a couple blocks down the street here was the train stop. He had to get off there because that was as far as the train could go.
Twelve years later, he and a bunch of local people started a business right here in Iowa. Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa. And the reason they did that was because, a lot of insurance companies from the east coast were doing business here, and people like us were paying premiums that they took out east. So Iowa money was being used to build the east coast. And they figured out that that doesn’t make any sense. You want to build your economy with your own local money.
So they started an insurance company right here, the first one west of the Mississippi. And all of the premiums were invested right here in Iowa. That’s the way you build a business. You invest in your home town, your home-town people, and your home-town businesses.
And you know what? Our governor up here and the legislature, 150 years later, are making the same mistake. By taking all of the money that we are paying as taxes and putting it out of state to out-of-state companies that don’t pay taxes, but they get a refundable tax credit, so we’re writing them checks.
$45 million a year, ladies and gentlemen, goes out of Iowa to write checks for out-of-state businesses, even though they pay no taxes. 150 years later, we’re making the same mistakes. That’s not good government.
This Iowa Fiscal Partnership report explains how the Research Activities Credit, originally designed “to support start-up companies,” now “primarily benefits very large companies,” which “pay little or no taxes.” Brianne Pfannenstiel covered the controversy surrounding that tax credit in this article for the Des Moines Register. Back to Hubbell’s speech at the Corn Feed:
You know what else? Back in the 1980s, I was one of the people running [the] Younkers department store business all across Iowa. Well, you might remember in the 80s, we had a big, serious farm crisis. A lot of farmers were in deep trouble. Many of them were going out of business. Many of them were going bankrupt.
What Younkers did, was we had stores all across the state. We had a lot of employees, and we had a lot of customers that were suffering from that. So we decided we needed to do something to help the community. Because that’s what good employers do, and that’s what good CEOs do, is they help the community. They invest in people.
So we started the Farm Aid, Farm Aid relief concerts with Willie Nelson. They were here for the next five or six years. Raising funds for the local farmers to be able to help keep them on their farms, so they didn’t have to go bankrupt. That’s what good businesses do, that’s what good leaders do.
I wasn’t aware of Younkers supporting the Farm Aid concerts. Mentioning that was a subtle way for Hubbell to one-up Norris, who often mentions on the stump that he helped organize a Farm Aid concert in Ames during the 1990s. (During the Hall of Fame event, Norris got in a dig at Hubbell, remarking that politicians who “tout the size of campaign war chests are out of touch with Iowans.”)
Back to Hubbell’s speech:
A few years later, I was running the Equitable Life Insurance Company, the one I mentioned a few minutes ago. I was approached by the woman who was running Planned Parenthood. You hear that, ladies? Planned Parenthood. [cheers]
The woman who was running that was having trouble getting into Dubuque. A lot of people were trying to get services from Planned Parenthood in Dubuque. They wouldn’t–nobody up there would rent them a building or sell them a building.
So they came to myself and my wife, and they said, is there something you can do to help? We can’t get up there, and a lot of people need our services. So we thought about it, we looked around, we tried to figure it out. We helped them open in Dubuque. We got them a building.
A couple months later, they were up in business, serving hundreds of people in Dubuque. Pretty soon it became thousands of people in Dubuque. That’s what stepping up to provide leadership is all about. That’s what leadership, what we need in Iowa.
But you know what? These same people who are sending the money out of state, they defunded Planned Parenthood, so now there’s clinics all across eastern Iowa that have been closed. That’s not what we want. That’s not the kind of leadership that we need.
So what do I want to do as governor? What I want to do is, first of all, put our budget behind the priorities. Because they talk about priorities over here, and they put the budget money over there. And that’s not how you make anything work.
Our priorities should be education, health care, and raising incomes for all Iowans, all across our state. And if we put the budget behind that, and we put the same kind of scrutiny on tax credits, tax deductions for business, that they are putting on human service programs, there’s a lot of money that we can free up to invest in education, health care, and raising incomes all across our state with a much smarter economic development program. [applause]
It’s not all that complicated. We just need a leader who knows how to do it. And a leader who’s not beholden to special interests, not worried about re-election. That’s willing to get in there, tackle the budget, put the money behind the people, not behind the failed tax breaks, and invest in our country, and invest in our state. Because our people are our best asset.
That’s why we need to invest in education, because that raises incomes for everybody. That’s why we need to invest in health care, because then people can be productive workers, and they can also be much more comfortable, much more confident at home with their families and their kids. Which makes a big difference in those kids going to school, and them going to work in the morning.
So if you’re interested in joining our campaign to make Iowa the kind of place it used to be, the kind of place it can be, please find a person over here in a green shirt. We’d love to have you sign up. We’ve got a lot of volunteers here, we’re anxious to get a lot more. Thank you very much, appreciate it. [applause]
JOHN NORRIS: “IT’S TIME WE EMBRACE OUR NEW IOWANS”
The Corn Feed took place a few days after President Donald Trump announced the federal government would soon end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has temporarily protected some 800,000 “DREAMers” (including about 2,800 Iowans) from deportation. Progress Iowa printed and distributed numerous signs that read “DEFEND DACA” on one side and “DEFEND DREAMERS” on the other. Sinovic encouraged the crowd to hold them up for a group shot before the candidate speeches.
Among the gubernatorial candidates, Norris devoted the most time to this issue.
Note: the apple Norris held during part of his speech alludes to the massive tax incentives package Iowa economic development officials recently approved for the Apple corporation to build a new data center in Waukee. All of the Democratic candidates for governor have criticized that deal.
Thank you very much, great to be with so many progressives. Matt, thanks for your leadership of Progress Iowa. And all of these great organizations up here, I hope you’ll take time to check in with their booths. I’ve worked with many of them over the years, and a special shout-out to the climate lobby, our Citizens Climate Lobby.
As we talk about the impact of global climate change, and its now-real impact on people’s lives, it’s time we do something about climate change and address that issue. [applause]
I’m familiar with all these organizations because I’ve been fighting with all of you for many years. When I worked for Tom Harkin, I was proud of his leadership on the Americans with Disabilities Act, and what that meant for empowering so many Americans, and justice for them.
When I marched with Cesar Chavez in California, to help bring environmental justice to migrant workers. When I marched with Paul Wellstone in Seattle at the “Battle in Seattle” against WTO [the World Trade Organization] and its harm to American workers and small businesses.
When I worked with Tom Vilsack and the Vision Iowa [program], to bring hope to rural communities. When I worked in the energy sector, at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with my directive from President Obama to increase renewable energy across this country.
Mine has been a life of progressive values and fights all my life. And like every one of you, I am worried about the direction of this state today, and so many people being left behind by a careless, insensitive governor and legislature that has literally abandoned our children, assaulted workers, neglected our environment, and been disrespectful to women, and we must change that in our state government. [applause]
It’s about priorities. They made it pretty clear what their priorities are, as you recognize this prop [the apple] I have up here today.
You know, we went from a nearly billion-dollar surplus in this state, to now a 350 million-dollar deficit. We have robbed our children in education. We’ve robbed our most vulnerable by this privatization of Medicaid, and now the 90-day rollback, and the pressure that puts on our most vulnerable citizens and our hospitals, and particularly rural hospitals.
The “90-day rollback” refers to the Reynolds administration asking the federal government for permission to revoke retroactive eligibility for new Medicaid recipients, who currently can be covered for medical care received during the three months before they join the program. Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate included that policy change in the health and human services budget for the current fiscal year. Back to the Norris speech:
Our government workers are stripped away of [their] collective bargaining rights, and now overtime pay. Not dealing with our clean water problem in this state–our dirty water problem in this state–and conservation that is bedrock to our future and our value of love for the land.
They’ve done all of that at the expense for handouts for special interests and the power of wealthy corporate lobbyists. And we saw an example recently in Iowa.
I think it’s great that Apple is here. But it’s not great that we’re giving them taxpayer money, for one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, while we’re not funding education, we’re not cleaning up our water, we’re not addressing the health care needs of Iowans. [applause]
So now we’ve got ’em right where we want ’em. Right where we want ’em. They don’t have any more millions of dollars to hand out to their wealthy special interests. They don’t know how to govern now. They didn’t in the first place. They can’t do the only thing they know, which is hand out special favors to their wealthy friends.
And Iowans want a change. They want a government that looks out for workers. Looks out for children, [and] our most vulnerable people, and paints a brighter future for everyone in our state.
Let me close with this. When I announced my candidacy for governor, I started in Storm Lake, Iowa. Because I wanted to talk about what it means to have a governor with vision. And yes, I chose a Republican governor. Governor [Bob] Ray. Who understood Iowans were a welcoming state, and we embrace people who need help and lift them up, as he did with the southeast Asian refugees after the Vietnam War.
He understood Iowans. Those folks in charge now do not. I just traveled to northwest Iowa the last two days, and every community is looking for workers. There’s a worker shortage. But we’re trying to drive out, we’re trying to drive out of this state our new Iowans, who are a part of our future?
It’s time we embrace our new Iowans, and paint a future that’s bright for them but also needed for our entire state. [applause]
I hope you’ll do all you can to be visible and raise your voices against DACA [repeal], and be visible and raise your voices to Iowans about the need to support our new Iowans. They are a part of our future. Our governor should lead that.
When I’m governor, I can tell you I will be down there at that vigil, that we had in Des Moines [on the day DACA repeal was announced], and our governor was absent. To look out for our new Iowans and the people who need us to step up.
Step up for our future, step up for the welcoming Iowa values that we have. That’s what we need in a leader in this state. Because Iowans are leaders.
And in the backdrop of Charlottesville, let’s have Iowa be the state that leads this country to standing up for those people who need us to stand up for them. That’s what being a leader is all about. I know Iowans want that in ourselves. Help me do that.
John Norris for governor, thank you very much. Now if you’ll excuse me, I can catch the second half of my son’s football game. Thank you very much.
ROSS WILBURN: “LET’S GET BACK TO BEING IOWA … WE CAN DO BETTER”
Wilburn is probably the last candidate to enter the Democratic race for governor, and Progress Iowa’s event was the former Iowa City mayor’s first chance to address a large activist audience in Des Moines.
Hello Iowa, hello. All right, good to see you, my name is Ross Wilburn, and I’ve been living in Ames for the past three years. Thirty years in Iowa City before that, and I went to junior high and high school in Davenport. And I feel fortunate to have lived and grown up in Iowa, and to serve the people of Iowa, doing so now at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in community economic development, and I’m their diversity officer.
I was also pleased to have served Iowa City as mayor and a twelve-year [city] council member. My third month as mayor was when the tornado hit. And we dealt with tornadoes and floods, and so you don’t have to–while our hearts are in Texas and Florida and out West, you don’t have to look too far beyond Iowa to find the dramatic effects of climate change.
So I’m looking forward to working with you, all of us, together–to try and take action that we all want to see in Iowa. We want to see a strong, sustainable economy. We want to see clean water. We want to pay attention to our natural resources. We want good health care, we want a strong education system.
And my message, our message to Iowa, is “Let’s be Iowa.” Let’s be Iowa. No matter how you feel about fireworks, whether they should be shot off here in Iowa or not, fireworks didn’t create a sustainable job. It didn’t get anybody’s health care back. It didn’t address the mental health system. It didn’t clean up our water.
And so, we need to recapture the Senate and the House, and get a Democrat in Terrace Hill [the governor’s mansion]. We can do that. We can do that. [applause]
As we’ve all been traveling around Iowa, Iowans want a healthy Iowa. They want a prosperous Iowa. They want a welcoming, inclusive Iowa.
A healthy Iowa: Iowans have said it’s a right. Health care is a right, and we need that single-payer plan. We can do that. We can do that if we make a difference here in Des Moines, on the ballot in December, as well as on the ballot starting next week with school boards, and November with city councils. Don’t forget those: they are very important.
And it’s not just our physical health, it’s our mental health. Closing down mental health centers without a plan for families and individuals to get support at the community level is not Iowa. That’s not who we are. We are better than that. [applause]
And it can’t just be about our physical and mental health. It’s got to be about our environmental health. What good does it do if we can’t drink the water and breathe clean air? We can do this. We can do this together.
A more prosperous Iowa: how about starting with that $15 livable wage? Not for extravagant things, but to help Iowans pay for everyday living things, have that money circulating about the local economies.
How about let’s invest in corporations and businesses that invest in Iowa, in Iowans. They don’t fight efforts to collectively bargain–which we need to restore those rights. They don’t make–they don’t ask for something in return, without giving back to us. Let’s make those investments in corporations that short-term, that give back to us.
And an inclusive, welcoming Iowa: Governor Ray in the 70s and Iowa did welcome folks from southeast Asia, and that was an Iowa thing to do. But it’s not just DACA, it’s folks from around the world who are contributing to our local economies, who are contributing to the state of Iowa. We need to get back to being a welcoming Iowa.
So those messages that we’ve been seeing around the country, those voices and faces of hate: imagine having to go and apply for a job with someone, imagine going to apply for a loan with someone that you saw with those messages of hate. Seeing someone at work.
My message to Iowa is let’s get back to being Iowa. We are a welcoming state. We can push through those messages of hate, but it’s going to take all of us speaking out. We’ve got to show love and we’ve got to choose a better message than hate. We can do that. I need you to help us help Iowans choose a better message than hate.
You see, it’s not just about diversity and inclusion. They are important, but it’s not just about that. It’s about a welcoming, friendly, encouraging Iowa.
We want to have an Iowa where there’s economic opportunity for all, so that we are getting back to those Iowa values. Can we do better? Can we do better than that, Iowa? [applause]
We can do better. Let’s be Iowa. Let’s be Iowa. Come on. Thank you, appreciate your help.
JON NEIDERBACH: “I HAVE NEVER BEEN AFRAID TO CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO”
Little-known fact about Neiderbach: he received 456,525 votes as the 2014 Democratic candidate for state auditor. His showing wasn’t nearly enough to beat Republican Mary Mosiman, but it was more than the 420,787 ballots cast for Jack Hatch for governor. As he sometimes does on the stump, Neiderbach discussed his 2014 campaign experience with the Corn Feed audience.
Good afternoon. Great crowd here today, delicious food, great groups back against the railing, lots of information being shared, and obviously soon the opportunity to hear some folks who well may be the next president of the United States [referring to South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon]. A pretty exciting day.
I’m Jon Neiderbach, and I’m running for governor. Many of you may have voted for me in 2014, and don’t recall it. I was the nominee for state auditor down-ticket, not something that people really focus on.
I frankly had planned to not do politics again after that election. A lot of interesting experience running in a statewide race, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to bite it off again. And then frankly, all the awful things of this past [legislative] session started happening, and it was clear that our state finances were going downhill real fast. And I got the strong impression that I needed to jump in to raise a bunch of issues that were not going to be raised otherwise.
There’s an awful lot of agreement among the strong field we have on a lot of issues. There are some differences here and there–whether or not you should raise [wages to] $15 an hour immediately, something I think we should do, or wait a while. Whether or not you should have Medicare for All at the state level, single payer, and do it over a consortium of states, not wait for the feds, like I think we should do, or whether we should wait for the federal government.
There’s a lot of–how we should finance and improve our water. Whether or not we should devote the statewide sales tax, or make the polluters pay, like I think we should do. [applause] Basic economics: if you spread the cost of a problem among everybody, there’s very little incentive to change behavior.
But frankly, that’s not why I’m running. Those are important things, but you never can tell how that’s all going to roll out.
What really makes me angry is we need as a party to recognize, voters are fed up, and they know that the system is rigged against them.
I traveled the state for [my] state auditor campaign in 2014. When you’re running for state auditor, what can you ask people? There aren’t a lot of issues. You ask folks, how do you think government is working? And boy, do you get an earful. You ask people how should government be done better, and you get more of an earful. And also, since I’ve announced [for governor] in March, I’ve also gotten an earful from people.
It is clear people are fed up, and they understand what an awful lot of politicians don’t: that the political system is rigged, that the economic system is rigged, and frankly, something very dear to my heart as a lawyer, that the legal system is rigged.
I’ll toss out one example as far as the legal system–political and economic, I think you’ve already heard some great examples. But the legal system is rigged: if you write a bad check three times, you’ll probably wind up in prison. First you’ll get probation, then you’ll get jail, then you’ll wind up in prison. If you get three credit cards and don’t pay them and declare bankruptcy, you’re not going to go to prison. Heck, if you do it enough times, you can become president. [laughter]
That illustrates how wrong our system is. And it pervades the entire system. There was just a study done by the ACLU, that African-Americans in Iowa are 8.34 percent–8.34 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana. Now I don’t think there’s a big difference in the rate of use of marijuana among African-Americans and non-.
Our whole legal system, our whole economic system, our political system, from top to bottom, is rigged. Upper-income people pay less of their income in taxes than lower-income people. It shouldn’t be right–it shouldn’t work that way.
I will be somebody–my whole life, I have never been afraid to challenge the status quo, from working for Gene McCarthy when I was 12, to fighting against the sales tax that was proposed for Polk County a few years ago, that would have hurt low-income people in order to give rich folks a property tax decrease.
I have never been afraid to challenge the status quo. I have never been afraid to go against the powerful and the people with money. I will not be afraid to do that as your governor.
I also have extensive experience. I know how Iowa government works. Fifteen years working as staff for the legislative branch, fifteen years working in the executive branch, a member of a school board for four [years], a year as president of the Des Moines school board. I know all the thigs that are broken in Iowa government, and I won’t be afraid to tap the best and the brightest to challenge the status quo to get them fixed.
Jon Neiderbach, I ask for your consideration. You know, the election isn’t this November. Everybody is so fired up because of Trump, you’d think the election was this November. The election isn’t until June, for the primary. Kick the tires, talk to the candidates. I ask for your consideration, and hopefully I’ll earn your support. Thank you very much. [applause]
ANDY MCGUIRE: “I CARE ABOUT EVERY IOWAN BEING A SUCCESS”
Dr. Andy McGuire devoted more of her remarks to health care than did any other candidate. The same has been true at every venue where I’ve heard multiple gubernatorial candidates this year, including the Hall of Fame event.
Hello, Democrats! Are you ready? You fired up? I’m Andy McGuire, seeing some friends, and new friends, old friends, and friends I haven’t even met yet. But I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself.
I’m from Waterloo. I was raised in a family of eight. I had a dad who came home from World War II and started a construction machinery business. My mom stayed home and took care of us. And you know, I’ve talked to a lot of you. What I was taught when I was growing up was about caring for others. That’s what they instilled in me, and they instilled that when a neighbor was sick, we went and helped them out. And when somebody in the community needed help, we all came together and got them back on their feet, like we’re seeing in Texas and Florida.
Do you know, I’ve been all over Iowa in the last two years [McGuire chaired the Iowa Democratic Party in 2015 and 2016], and you know what I’ve seen and heard?
I’ve heard that people aren’t getting a fair shake. And they’re not getting ahead for their families. And they feel like the Branstad/Reynolds administration is putting profits ahead of people. Is that how you feel? [applause]
Well, I want to change that. I’m a doctor. I’ve been a doctor and caring for people my whole life. And I care about every Iowan being a success. Every Iowan. That’s what we ought to have in our governor.
I’ve also heard about health care. And as a doctor, I want to say one thing: health care is a right, not a privilege, correct? [applause]
I’ve been listening to people about this Medicare [Medicaid] mess, that’s the nicest word I can use for it.
And you know, we put 600,000 of our fellow citizens in danger of not having access to health care. Think about that. Is that the Iowa we want to be?
I talked to a mom, she has a child with disabilities. She has to drive an hour and a half to get her child health care. We don’t need to do that, folks, and as governor, I will make sure no mother and no person worries about access to health care in Iowa. I will make sure of it. [applause]
I’ve talked to people who are, their families are struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse and addiction. I bet you all know somebody who’s struggling. And yet, we’re 50th in mental health beds. 47th in mental health providers.
And we’ve, we’ve really turned our police into our first-line mental health workers. They put people in jails and in emergency rooms, two of the most expensive and worst places for someone in crisis. Well, I’d like to take that money and put it into counseling so that we can help people before they get to crisis. So as your governor, I will make sure there are mental health resources in every community for our struggling citizens. [applause]
I’ve talked to some of the 15,000 women who no longer have their Planned Parenthood clinics. I’ve talked to them about their worries about where they’re going to get their health care, where they’re going to get their cancer screenings, where they’re going to get their family planning.
I see a lot of you with these buttons on [expressing support for Planned Parenthood], and I’m so glad you’re here. You know what? First day in office, as a woman, as a doctor, as a mother of five daughters, I will restore Planned Parenthood funding that very first day. [applause]
That promise has been a staple of McGuire’s stump speech for months, and it puzzled me. This year, Republicans created a fully state-funded family planning program, excluding all organizations that provide abortion services. After the Poweshiek Democrats picnic in Grinnell on August 27, I asked McGuire how she could in effect overturn a state law.
“Some lawyers have told me that that’s possible,” she said. How? Through an executive order that establishes a new family planning program? McGuire indicated that the governor could use discretionary funds to go “around the law, if you will.”
I certainly wouldn’t need to decorate my office. So yes, I think there are discretionary funds that you could do the first day to get that going. Because we need to. I mean, you know every day, somebody’s not getting birth control. And that means somebody’s life could be really altered.
So this is something that can’t wait. We cannot–I will do all the things to get it changed the other way. But that first day–this is, this is an emergency to me. Because I mean, I know there’s young ladies out there who, their life is going to be changed because of this. And we can’t do that. Plus, cancer screenings, and 15,000 of our Iowans? We have got to do this.
Picking up with McGuire’s speech at the Corn Feed:
I’ve talked to a lot of people about education, a lot of parents. You know, they worry about their kids. Some of the kids don’t even have enough books so that they can have their homework, can take their homework home at night.
That’s not the Iowa we want. We used to be a beacon for education, and we should be that again. Are there any teachers in the audience? Can you wave at me? Let’s give our teachers a hand, shall we? [applause]
You now, our teachers deserve our respect, and they deserve the resources they need to make sure that our kids can get the great education they need. And I will make sure as governor that every child in every zip code has quality public education. It will be one of my goals. [applause]
I talked to some people, actually we were talking back there about–some people are having two and three jobs and are just not getting ahead, because they’re working for minimum wage. You know our minimum wage is seven and a quarter an hour? And has been since 2008, almost a decade?
I think hard-working Iowans need a raise, what about you? So I support $15 an hour minimum wage. [applause]
I also talked to people about this attack–and that’s what it was, folks–an attack on working men and women when we stripped collective bargaining rights. We have got to put those back, because that not only hurts public-sector unions, that hurts all of us, folks. It’s going to impact Iowa, and we have got to put those collective bargaining rights back for our hard-working union members. [applause]
I have seven kids and one grandchild, hopefully more. And they’re all moving back to Iowa. And that’s one of the reasons I want to do this. That’s one of the reasons, because I want them to be a success. I want my kids and my grandkids to be a success. I want your kids and your grandkids to be a success.
I see an Iowa where they grow up and they don’t have to worry about access to health care. Where they don’t have to worry about having a great public education. Where they don’t have to worry about having a good-paying job with good benefits anywhere in Iowa.
That’s the Iowa I see for our future. That’s why I’d like you to support me, because that’s the governor I want to be. It’s McGuire for governor. Thank you so much for your time. [applause]
NATE BOULTON: “THIS IS A FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF OUR STATE”
Boulton had the loudest cheering section at the Corn Feed and gave the longest speech among the gubernatorial contenders. Not surprisingly, the candidate with some two dozen labor endorsements so far spent the most time talking about workers’ rights.
Thanks for that warm welcome, I appreciate that. It is great to be with Progress Iowa today. I’m proud to support this organization and all it does to help our progressive message catch on across the state.
So, my name is Nate Boulton. I’m a state senator who represents east Des Moines and Pleasant Hill. But I grew up in Columbus Junction, a small town of about 2,000 people, in the middle of a small county of about 10,000 people. My mom and step-dad still live on a heritage farm just outside of Columbus Junction. It’s been in my step-father’s family for over 150 years.
My father came out of Bandag tire plant and Muscatine, now is involved in the Steelworkers Union statewide. His father, my grandfather spent 20 years, two decades as the chief union steward at Rath Packing house in Columbus Junction for the UFCW. I’m very proud of my family’s history.
And I’m proud to have continued that work, of standing up. Standing up for workplace rights and safety, advocating for people who put in a full day’s work to try to get ahead.
I’m proud to have done that as an attorney for the last twelve years. Representing injured workers in workers’ compensation, trying to put their lives back on track after sometimes disabling and debilitating work injuries. Representing people wrongly terminated due to no fault of their own. Representing labor unions as they negotiate fair contracts for the work that they do, making sure that they are organizing new workplaces. Representing victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
I do those things because it is part of my family’s tradition. And that’s what I wanted to do when I got to the Iowa Senate. To stand up for workplace rights, to stand up for working families, and advance a quality of life for workers across this state.
Yet we saw a different agenda taking hold when I got there. You see, we had Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, a Republican House and a Republican Senate, and they reminded us that they had full control of state government every single day.
And what did they do with that opportunity? Nothing to do with their promise of 200,000 new jobs and increasing Iowa’s earnings for families by 25 percent. They forgot that legislation.
Instead, they introduced an agenda that only held back and took away from people who need an advocate now more than ever. People who go to work every day. What did their agenda do?
They blew holes in the state budget. Continuing their corporate tax credit system. Credits, exemptions, and giveaways for some of the world’s wealthiest corporations. Blowing a hole in our state budget, now almost $600 million dollars a year being handed out, and balancing that budget on the backs of working families.
We saw this agenda and what it did. They defunded Planned Parenthood, shutting down four Iowa health care facilities for reproductive health care services for Iowa women.
They’ve underfunded education now seven years in a row. In a state that has always prioritized education, underfunding it against the rate of inflation for seven consecutive years.
They pushed through a bill on workers’ compensation, actually further harming those who are injured on the job, trying to advance Iowa’s economy with their work and their labor.
And they attacked public employees, those who answer the sacred call of public service. Our teachers, our firefighters, our police officers, our social workers, our road workers, the very people that keep our communities safe and secure, were told they’re entitled to fewer and lesser rights in their workplace.
This was a very hurtful agenda. This is the same group of people that pushed through a privatized Medicaid system that does not work for patients. That we’re hearing from providers of care that it is hurting their ability to provide health care services, which by the way, doesn’t just affect Medicaid recipients, it affects all of us. And now even the managed-care organizations are telling us, we can’t continue in this system unless you bail us out, because you gave us bad information when we made our bids in the first place.
Iowa is better than this. Iowans are better than this. We have stood up for a different vision for our state.
The tough fights define us, and we were in those fights together. I was proud to lead Senate Democrats–I know we have a couple here, I know Senator [Joe] Bolkcom’s here, I think I saw Senator [Rob] Hogg–as we fought that public sector bargaining bill. All through the night, 26 consecutive hours, amendment after amendment. I was proud to stand there every step of the way with our public employees. [applause]
And I was proud to stand with you as you came to the Iowa Capitol by the thousand. You showed up at forum after forum by the hundred to stand up to this agenda.
The tough fights do define us. But we have to start offering our vision forward if we are going to win in 2018.
This is a fight for the soul of our state. We are going to determine the long-term future of Iowa in this election. And by the way, the fight for 2018 starts now. It starts with people like Phil Miller, stepping up and winning a special election in Fairfield. [applause] I was proud to be knocking doors with him twice, and I am looking forward to having him serve in the Iowa legislature.
It starts with an election on Tuesday, as we elect school board members. [applause] It starts with an election in November this year, as we elect local officials in city government, people that should be standing up for the public employees that have been under attack this past year.
We are building a movement here. But we have to do more than talk about the things we are against as we build that movement. We have to offer that positive vision forward for Iowa’s long-term success.
Think about what Iowa can achieve, think about the opportunity Iowa has ahead of us if we start planning for the next 20 years, not just the next 20 months.
Think about what Iowa could look like if we get back to fully funding education as a priority, back to recruiting quality teachers into our classroom. [applause] Not raising tuition by 7 percent per year at our public universities. Not by underfunding our community colleges, not by taking away opportunities.
We need the best and brightest coming into our classrooms to teach the next generation of our state’s leaders. It’s going to be hard to do that when we tell them that they are worth less in their workplace. When we tell them they have to invest more of their salaries, that they have just been promised will never keep up with inflation for the rest of their career, because the state underfunds their classrooms.
We should have a state where we once again ensure that every Iowa child, no matter where they grew up or who their parents are, is entitled to reach their full potential with an Iowa education. That’s an Iowa value that we must stand together for in this election. [applause]
Sharing that vision forward as we address the very real problem of climate change, that we have seen another reminder again this week of how harsh that reality is. And Iowa is positioned to lead. It’s economic opportunity for our state, investing in wind and solar technologies. We get a third of our energy from renewable resources in this state. We can get to 50 percent renewable energy produced in this state by 2025 and produce more quality Iowa jobs as we do it. [applause]
Think about what Iowa looks like if we invest in that long-term future, investing in education, investing in quality job growth. Because Iowa’s strength isn’t the coupons of the Branstad/Reynolds administration. Iowa’s economic strength is the most educated, skilled, productive workforce in the world, that we can ensure is ready to meet the challenges of a changing economy with a quality education, with investments in community infrastructure in our mid-sized and rural and urban communities, that are ready to see economic progress that’s sustainable in our state again.
We do these things because these are the important things to our families, to our neighbors, and to our future generations.
That’s what this election is about. We will determine Iowa’s long-term future in this election. And believe me: Kim Reynolds is nervous about it. We heard from her–when she gave her first set of remarks after being sworn in as governor, what did she say? “We need to do something about tax policy, we need to do something about education,” as if those two problems just fell from the sky after Terry Branstad was sworn in to go to China.
No, no, no, this is her agenda. And we’ve seen what her agenda has meant to 2,800 Iowa public employees who were just told they’re not going to get overtime pay for overtime work. That was her administration’s decision, not anybody else’s.
So let’s remind Iowans what’s at stake in this election. Let’s stand up. Let’s build the movement we need to win this fight for the soul of this state. My name’s Nate Boulton, I’m running for governor, and I ask for your support in that effort. [applause]
POST-SCRIPT: BRENT ROSKE
Film-maker Brent Roske made a pitch for his independent campaign after Norris and before Wilburn. I didn’t transcribe the speech, but here’s the audio.
Near the beginning, Roske said he’s “not against the Democrat Party, not against the Republican Party, or against the Libertarian Party. But I’m running as another avenue to get progressive and Democrat and independent ideas into the statehouse.” He proceeded to explain why he believes the time has come for single-payer health care, and how important it is to clean up Iowa’s waterways.
Let’s get real. Roske’s ego trip won’t bring any progressive ideas into the statehouse. All he can accomplish is diverting some general-election votes away from the only candidate with a chance of beating the Republican nominee.
If the Democratic race turns negative, or the nomination is decided at a state convention (because no candidate won 35 percent of the vote in the primary), there may be some hard feelings among activists whose favorites fell short. Roske made clear he’ll be happy to pick up the pieces: “Since I’m running as an independent, I’ll be on the ballot in November. And if your candidate up here by chance doesn’t make it there, I hope you think about voting for an independent.”
Advocates for strong environmental policies and Medicare for All can’t move the needle toward those goals by voting for Roske in 2018. They can only make him a spoiler.
Top image: Independent candidate Brent Roske and Democrats Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, Nate Boulton, Andy McGuire, Ross Wilburn, and Jon Neiderbach. Not pictured: John Norris, who had to leave the event earlier for a family obligation.