IA-Gov: Highlights from Cathy Glasson's campaign launch

Cathy Glasson became the seventh declared Democratic candidate for governor this week, emphasizing her commitment to a $15 minimum wage, expanded workers' rights, single-payer health care, and stronger efforts to clean up Iowa waterways. A nurse and president of SEIU Local 199, Glasson hired staff months ago and has kept up a busy schedule while exploring the race, speaking at or attending more than 100 events around the state. Bleeding Heartland covered two versions of her stump speech here and here.

I enclose below news from Glasson's rollout, including endorsements from Iowa environmental activists and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. You can keep up with Glasson through her campaign's website, Twitter feed, or Facebook page.

The field of Democratic challengers to Governor Kim Reynolds is likely complete. In alphabetical order, the other candidates are:

Nate Boulton (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Fred Hubbell (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Andy McGuire (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Jon Neiderbach (website, Twitter, Facebook)
John Norris (website, Twitter, Facebook)
Ross Wilburn (website, Twitter, Facebook)


Announcing her candidacy on September 19 in Cedar Rapids, Glasson focused on the same "bold, progressive agenda" that has dominated her stump speeches. The full text is near the end of this post. Key promises:

I’m all in for a better future for Iowa.
I’m all in for a $15 minimum wage.
I’m all in for a universal single-payer health care system.
I’m all in for restoring collective bargaining rights for public employees and making it easier for all Iowans to join unions or employee associations at their jobs.
I’m all in for full funding of our k-12 education system, free community college and affordable university tuition.
I’m all in for cleaning up our water and building up our family farms.
I’m all in for lowering barriers to democracy in our state and making it easier for all eligible Iowans to vote. [...]
We’re fighting for an Iowa that cares about all its people again. That realizes when any of us are left behind none of us can really move forward.
We’re fighting the half-measures and the empty political promises of the past.

A video released the same day featured twelve Iowans who have been affected by low wages, profit-driven health care, the closure of Planned Parenthood clinics, or water pollution.


Glasson's been talking about Iowa's dirty water problem in her stump speech for months. She fleshed out her environmental proposals during a September 20 event at the state Capitol: a moratorium on new "factory farms" (confined animal feeding operations or CAFOs), policies to make "polluters pay for the damage they do," and moving the state "towards a 100 percent clean energy economy."

“It’s time to end the stranglehold of big agriculture and big oil on the Governor’s office in Iowa [...] It’s time for independent family farmers, experts on clean energy and the Iowans impacted by corporate pollution to have a seat at the table. There is no rural versus urban divide when it comes to dirty water.”

Four people well-known in Iowa environmental circles joined Glasson at the Capitol and are serving on her "farming & environmental activist council":

• Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry considered running for governor himself earlier this year. In his statement endorsing Glasson (enclosed at the end of this post), Carberry praised her for "having a conversation with Iowans about the issues that are most important and that can’t be ignored. [...] She has focused with passion on the issues that matter most to Iowans,” such as "Medicare for All" at a statewide level and free community college tuition. Having lobbied for or been actively involved in a number of Iowa environmental organizations over the years, Carberry also noted Glasson's support for renewable energy and opposition to the the Dakota Access (Bakken) pipeline.

• Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe has been a vocal critic of policies that force his utility to spend huge sums cleaning up pollution largely caused by conventional farming practices. He sat with Glasson's supporters at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame event in July.

• Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member Cherie Mortice is running for a seat on the Des Moines Water Works board.

• Barb Kalbach is a farmer, nurse, and former Iowa CCI board chair. She waged a quixotic campaign to be nominated as lieutenant governor in 2010 to "represent the progressive, grassroots base of the Democratic Party who feels the issues that they have put forward have been ignored at the state level." Kalbach is currently president of the Iowa CCI Action Fund, which advocates for single-payer health care, a $15 minimum wage indexed to inflation, and a moratorium on factory farms.

Note: CCI Action has not endorsed a candidate for governor. The group interviewed Boulton, Glasson, Neiderbach, and Norris, and posted those videos here.

To my knowledge, only two other Democratic candidates for governor have advocated specific changes to state policy on CAFOs. Neiderbach also believes polluters should pay for water and soil conservation programs. He told me this week,

Absolutely [I] support a moratorium on new or expanded CAFOs until major progress is made on cleaning up our impaired waterways (lakes, streams, and rivers). What's different is I'll fight for a State bank to offer loans with favorable terms to smaller livestock producers who want to use new technology to reduce pollution. I also support making the Nutrient Reduction Strategy mandatory and establishing goals and timetables for reducing water pollution.

Norris has called for restoring county zoning authority over agricultural operations, banned by state law since 1995. At the Poweshiek Democrats picnic in Grinnell on August 27, he told me "we need to redo the master matrix" the Iowa Department of Natural Resources uses to evaluate permit applications, so a proposed CAFO has to "score in every category at an acceptable level." Norris would pause approvals of CAFOs while a new master matrix is developed. That state policy would be "the floor" for large farm operations; counties could set higher environmental standards.


The Progressive Change Campaign Committee became the first national organization to endorse Glasson on September 21. The group's co-founder Stephanie Taylor called Glasson "an authentic, gut-level economic populist who is on the side of working people" and "one of the top bold progressives running for governor this cycle."

As one of the first gubernatorial candidates to campaign on Medicare for All, Cathy is the model for all 2018 candidates. By showing Democrats how popular Medicare for All is in Iowa, Cathy is helping make the issue the consensus position for the party in 2018 and 2020."

PCCC sent a fundraising message for Glasson to the one million people on its e-mail list and has been promoting her on its social media feeds.

In terms of grassroots support, Glasson will find more valuable assistance from members of Iowa CCI and the Iowa Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus. To coincide with the official campaign launch on Tuesday, volunteers knocked on doors for Glasson during the after-work hours in eight cities: Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Sioux City, Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport, Ames and Burlington.

Any comments about the governor's race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: On September 22, Glasson spoke at a rally in Iowa City, where U.S. Senator Joni Ernst was holding a town hall. Action Iowa, Indivisible Iowa, Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa, Hawkeyes for DREAM Iowa, and Student Advocates for Planned Parenthood organized that event. From a Glasson campaign news release:

“Governor Reynolds is encouraging our U.S. Senators to support a plan that will mean 172,000 Iowans lose their healthcare,” Glasson told assembled activists. “The loss to Iowa in federal health care funds will be $2.3 billion dollars. Premiums will increase by $4,500 per year for the average Iowan. How can the Governor of Iowa possibly think this is a good idea? How can our U.S. Senator Joni Ernst think this is right for Iowans?”

Glasson said she’s spoken to too many Iowans who can’t afford the care they need and seen what happens on the frontlines as an ICU nurse. “I’ve seen it in the intensive care unit— people who are just one emergency away from being wiped out, “ she stated. “I believe we need Medicare for All. If corporate lobbyists, insiders and sell-out politicians won’t do the right thing in Washington, then we have to lead the way here in Iowa and pass our own version of single-payer universal healthcare care at the state level—everyone in, no one left out.”

Glasson also called on Ernst and other U.S. Senators to stand up and protect America’s Dreamers, undocumented young immigrants. “Every Iowan deserves to pursue their dreams and live their life to their full potential,” she stated. “We must fight back against the attack on Dreamers. To threaten their future by taking away their DACA status—to pull the rug out from under 800,000 young people who are working, going to school, serving in the military and as first responders—is wrong.”

Full text of Glasson's September 19 speech in Cedar Rapids:

“Thank you Lindsey and Damien for telling your stories. And thanks to everyone I’ve met across Iowa these last few months for sharing your hopes and dreams for your families and our state.

How it’s going Cedar Rapids? What an honor to be here with you to enter this next phase of our campaign for a bold, progressive Iowa.

I want to give a shout out to the folks who are watching as we stream this live around the state. We have volunteers who are getting ready to head out in eight cities around Iowa today to build our bold, progressive movement.

They're getting ready to hit the streets in Davenport and talk to their neighbors about our movement.
They’re watching in Ames and grabbing their clipboards. They’re ready to make a change.

Folks are getting together in Burlington... in Sioux City...Waterloo... Iowa City and over in Des Moines--people joining our movement--they’re watching us and getting ready too.

Hundreds of people across Iowa are getting ready to take action this afternoon. At five o’clock on a Tuesday in September--14 months before the election! Remember this day... Because it’s the day we chose a new future for Iowa. So, who are these folks? What is this movement?
They’re students, retirees, fast food workers, stonemasons. They’re custodians and nurses, electricians and teachers. Farmers and hospital workers.

Childcare workers. Moms and Dads.
And you know what they all have in common? I’ll tell you what: They’re sick and tired.
They’re tired of working two and three jobs and still struggling to pay their bills or to be able to save any money for the future.
They’re tired of watching big, high-profit corporations like Apple get millions in handouts from the Governor while their families get crumbs.
They’re tired of seeing corporate lobbyists and CEOs call the shots in Des Moines when working people like them can’t even get a seat at the table.
They’re sick and tired of a health care system that puts profits for insurance companies, profits for pharmaceutical companies and profits for big hospitals first, but puts care and patients dead last every single time.
They’re sick and tired of politicians who say they care about a better future for working people but who pass laws to actually lower our pay and take away our unions.
And they’re sick of dirty water in our state-- waterways that literally make Iowans sick.
They’re sick of factory farms and corporate agriculture having a stranglehold on the Governor’s office.
They’re tired of tuition in our public universities going up and our state’s investment in K-12 schools and higher education going down.
And they’re sick and tired of a Governor and a Legislature who can’t seem to do one of the most important things they are there to do: raise Iowa’s pay and improve Iowans’ standard of living.
So today, we’re hitting the streets. We’re ready to rise up for a change.
And, today, I’m here to tell you, after listening and learning, after traveling thousands of miles all summer exploring a candidacy, from Dubuque to Moravia, from Milford to Keokuk, today, I’m officially announcing that I am a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Iowa.

I’m all in for a better future for Iowa.
I’m all in for a $15 minimum wage.
I’m all in for a universal single-payer health care system.
I’m all in for restoring collective bargaining rights for public employees and making it easier for all Iowans to join unions or employee associations at their jobs.
I’m all in for full funding of our k-12 education system, free community college and affordable university tuition.
I’m all in for cleaning up our water and building up our family farms.
I’m all in for lowering barriers to democracy in our state and making it easier for all eligible Iowans to vote.
Do you think it’s going to be easy? The odds are stacked against us.
When people stand up to the status quo, when citizens demand their fair share, when we take on the bosses and the billionaires, the politicians aren’t just going to roll over.
The corporations aren’t just going to get out of the way.
They’ll fight tooth and nail to keep their power.
But I have to tell you, I think this year in Iowa they’ve met their match— in YOU. In OUR movement.
My name may be the one on the ballot, but it’s not about me—It’s about each of you. This is your movement.
We’re fighting for an Iowa that cares about all its people again. That realizes when any of us are left behind none of us can really move forward.
We’re fighting the half-measures and the empty political promises of the past.

We’re fighting an outdated political system that’s shut us out and failed us for decades. We’re saying loud and clear that Republican-lite policies aren’t going to cut it this year. Our focus is on raising the wage to $15 and doing it fast...
On expanding unions and employee associations...
On creating a universal health care system for Iowa.
Those three bold ideas would dramatically change the lives of more than a million Iowans.
The number one job of any Governor is to improve the standard of living for the people in her state. To raise wages and make it easier for people to take care of their families.
This will be the first thing I think about when I get up every morning and the last thing I think about when I go to bed every night.
Are we raising the standard of living for every Iowan? Are we making sure working Iowans finally have a seat at the table?
Let’s organize! Let’s fight! Let’s rise up and win back Iowa together!
My name is Cathy Glasson and I would be honored to be your Governor! Thank you.”

September 20 press release from Mike Carberry:

Mike Carberry, former Democratic candidate for Governor, is supporting labor union president Cathy Glasson for Iowa Governor in the June 2018 Democratic primary.

“Cathy Glasson is having a conversation with Iowans about the issues that are most important and that can’t be ignored. She is proposing the bold progressive answers that will make the change that the 99% of Iowans need to be healthy and prosperous,” said Carberry.

“She has focused with passion on the issues that matter most to Iowans,” said Carberry, a Johnson County Supervisor. Glasson is worth standing up for because she is standing up for Iowans, Carberry said.

One of the highest ranking elected officials to endorse Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Iowa caucus, Carberry said Glasson has connected well with Sanders supporters across the state. “I am pleased she is standing up for the issues that drove half of Iowa Democrats to support Sanders,” he said. Those issues include an increased minimum wage, clean water, renewable energy, health care for all, and free community college tuition.

“After the disastrous legislative session that decimated workers’ rights, voters’ rights, and education funding, and left the state in a financial hole, Cathy Glasson and her populist policies are the answer Iowans need to prosper again,” Carberry said.

In Johnson County, Carberry cast the deciding vote to increase its minimum wage, and he appreciates Glasson’s support of a $15 an hour minimum wage for Iowa. “What we started in Johnson County needs to be increased to a living wage for all Iowa workers to give them a more solid financial foundation, and to accelerate economic growth for all businesses across the state,” said Carberry.

As a professional environmental lobbyist for several years, Carberry is encouraged by Glasson’s support of a moratorium on CAFO’s and a plan to make polluters pay for clean water in Iowa. “I want a governor who will lead the way and sign environmental legislation, not one who dithers and gets in the way of progress. With Glasson’s background in public health, we can have clean water and cleaner agricultural practices in Iowa,” he said.

Carberry stated that Glasson’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and support of expanded clean renewable energy initiatives is also attractive to him. “I have fought against coal plants, nuclear power plants, and dirty oil pipelines. Iowans deserve a Governor who puts our health before profits and understands that clean energy is not only the best environmental future, but also is an economic solution to bring more good clean jobs to Iowa. Cathy knows climate change is already hurting Iowans and she knows the solutions we need.”

Glasson is also showing leadership in public health in Iowa, Carberry said, by promoting a statewide version of “Medicare for All” if there is no action on a national program. “The Medicaid disaster of the Reynolds Administration needs a bold response, and Glasson knows exactly what Iowa needs to do to secure affordable health care insurance for its citizens,” said Carberry.

“Free community college tuition is an issue that only Cathy Glasson is addressing in the way Sanders does,” Carberry said. “It can be a significant economic driver for Iowa to regain its economic standing, and Glasson is the one to deliver it,” said Carberry.

“Cathy Glasson is at heart, a political organizer, like I am, and her stance on issues aligns with mine,” he said “But before Cathy started thinking about this campaign, I knew her as someone with courage to stand up for her fellow nurses and to stand up to the UI Hospital administration to win improvements in the work place. She has never stopped since and that’s the type of person Iowans need fighting for them and serving as their governor.”

LATE UPDATE: CCI Action endorsed Glasson on September 28. Video from that event is here. From the official announcement:

Our vision for changing “business as usual” politics starts and stops with people.

That’s why CCI Action is about taking on the corrosive influence of big money special interests. And, that’s why CCI Action is about energizing, engaging, and bringing real people into the center of our political system.

That’s how we’ll win an Iowa that puts clean water first; that serves the common good not corporate ag or big oil; where we stop wage theft and racial profiling; and work to make sure Iowans get paid a living wage.

Nobody’s going to move that agenda for us. It’s up to us to engage and deliver. We have to build political power to win.

We’re happy to announce we’ve found a gubernatorial candidate who agrees with us.

Today we announced that we’re endorsing Cathy Glasson for Governor! [...]

This endorsement is a big step for us.

It’s not a decision we made lightly. This endorsement came at the end of a two month process, led by a 27-member endorsement committee, that included a candidate questionnaire, four in-person candidate screening meetings, a member survey, and lots of discussion.

We’re standing with Cathy Glasson’s campaign, because Cathy stands with us:

She’s a longtime CCI Action member and union organizer with a history of fighting alongside everyday people on movement issues.
She has bold positions on our People & Planet First issues like clean water, healthcare, Fight for $15, and more. She knows elections are an opportunity to engage and build the base of people needed to push our issue fights once she’s elected.
Most importantly, she shares our understanding that no single candidate will solve the problems facing everyday people. She agrees that in order to win on the issues that matter most to us, we need a movement of Iowans standing up, speaking out, engaged, and active in their communities, and in the streets, 365 days a year – not just at election time.

Cathy’s campaign is an opportunity to build the movement and do politics differently!

This will be a working endorsement. With our new state PAC we will organize alongside Cathy from the caucus to the primary to the general election. And, when she wins, we’re excited to co-govern with her. (Hey, Farm Bureau and the insurance lobby do it; why not a people’s organization?!) [...]

Login or Join to comment and post.