Declaring that health care is a “fundamental human right,” and “Iowa should lead the way,” Cathy Glasson is taking her message to Iowa television viewers, beginning January 18. Single-payer health care reform has been a central theme of Glasson’s stump speeches since she began exploring a gubernatorial campaign. Her stance on that issue was a key factor in attracting endorsements from some progressive organizations and many activists who caucused for Bernie Sanders in 2016. It even helped Glasson win over television and movie actor Piper Perabo (hat tip to Christian Ucles). As Gavin Aronsen observed in this Iowa Informer profile, “lefty media outlets” with a national audience “have taken notice of Glasson’s grassroots campaign” too, in part because of her vocal support for Medicare for All.
I enclose below the video and transcript of “Heart,” which will air in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets, according to a campaign news release. The spot is a good way for Glasson to distinguish herself from the rest of the field. Among her six rivals for the nomination, only Jon Neiderbach is also on record supporting single-payer health care. Neiderbach is unlikely to have the funds for substantial television advertising before the primary, though. I am seeking further details on how Glasson envisions creating a state-level universal health care system to replace private insurance and will update this post as needed.
Glasson is the third Democratic gubernatorial candidate to run tv ads this year, after Fred Hubbell and Nate Boulton. Two factors are driving the unusually early start for paid advertising. The upcoming Iowa precinct caucuses will be the first step in a convention process that may select the Democratic nominee, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary. In a departure from usual practice during non-presidential years, many Democratic caucuses will divide into preference groups based on the governor’s race on February 5. Field organizers and volunteers for the various contenders are working hard to turn their people out, because supporters of viable candidates will be able to elect county convention delegates.
Glasson can afford to pay for television commercials now without depleting her resources. Entities affiliated with the Service Employees International Union have contributed at least $1.8 million to her campaign so far, Iowa Starting Line reported on January 16.
UPDATE: Our Revolution, the national group that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, endorsed Glasson on January 18. In a statement, executive director Shannon Jackson said, “We are proud to support a progressive candidate like Cathy who has such strong ties to the labor community. From her work with the SEIU, to her activism on issues like raising the minimum wage and providing universal health care, Cathy has set herself apart from the competition. Having lived in Iowa her entire life, Cathy knows the needs of the working-class people of all backgrounds. Cathy is a proven leader who will work to ensure all Iowans have access to a good paying job, affordable housing, and quality health care.”
The Iowa CCI Action Fund, which endorsed Glasson in September, announced on January 18 that it will spend $40,000 to support her campaign over the next five months. “The funds will go towards statewide communications as well as grassroots field organizing in seven key counties: Story, Boone, Hardin, Sac, Guthrie, Adair, and Poweshiek.” The SEIU political action committee donated $30,000 to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement in October, funds that will support Iowa CCI’s state PAC. I sought comment from CCI on the funding and endorsement process; scroll to the end of this post for the group’s reply.
Debut television commercial for Cathy Glasson, “Heart”:
Glasson’s voice: I’ve listened to Iowans, and I believe Iowans and this country are ready to rise up for universal health care. (applause) [Viewer sees images of people Glasson met from around the state, then words UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE on screen]
Footage of Glasson speaking at a campaign event: Because getting good health care is not a privilege. [words near left of screen: HEALTH CARE NOT A PRIVILEGE. The candidate’s name is at the bottom of the screen]
It is not a luxury. [words near left of screen: HEALTH CARE NOT A LUXURY. CATHY GLASSON is still visible near the bottom]
And as an intensive care nurse, I’ve seen it up close, and I believe in my heart that health care is a fundamental human right. [words near left of screen: INTENSIVE CARE NURSE, later changing to FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT]
Sound of applause, footage of Glasson nodding while listening to an audience member. “Endorsed by National Nurses United” is visible near the bottom of screen.
View shifts back to Glasson speaking at the podium: Everybody in. Nobody left out. Iowa should lead the way. [near left of screen, Glasson campaign logo and EVERYBODY IN NOBODY OUT are visible; spot closes with images of other ordinary Iowans]
January 17 press release from Cathy Glasson’s campaign:
Glasson Campaign Launches TV Ad on Universal Health Care
“Everybody in. Nobody left out. Iowa should lead the way.”
Democrat Cathy Glasson’s campaign for Iowa Governor will launch its first television commercial this Thursday. The thirty second ad, entitled “Heart,” focuses on Glasson’s support for single-payer, universal health care.
“Good health care is not a privilege,” Glasson says in the commercial. “It is not a luxury. As an intensive care nurse, I’ve seen it up close and I believe in my heart that health care is a fundamental human right.”
The initial six-figure ad buy will air in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids media markets. The campaign’s first commercial includes a dozen Iowans who participated in Glasson’s Listening to Iowa tour and recent town halls across the state. The spot features Glasson speaking at a recent town hall meeting with voters in Dubuque.
Creating a universal health care system is a central tenet of Cathy Glasson’s bold, progressive agenda to dramatically improve the lives of more than a million Iowans, along with raising the minimum wage to $15 and making it easier to join a union no matter where you work.
Glasson’s initial television ad campaign is slated to run through Iowa’s February 5th precinct caucuses. The television ad buy enhances the campaign’s extensive voter outreach program which includes statewide direct mail, statewide digital advertising, extensive social media and a grassroots field organizing program powered by more than 800 volunteers.
“We’re building a movement centered on the radical idea that regular Iowans deserve a voice in the Governor’s office again,” said campaign manager Brian Shepherd. “We’re seeing incredible energy everywhere Cathy goes to sit down and listen to Iowans who’ve been left out. Volunteers are turning out in ice storms and sub-zero wind chills to build this bold, progressive movement. We’re going to keep organizing to do politics differently in Iowa in 2018.”
Cathy Glasson, 59, is the President of SEIU Local 199 representing thousands of nurses, health care workers and school support employees across Iowa. She is a registered nurse who worked in the intensive care unit at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where she led the effort to unionize her fellow nurses 18 years ago. She lives in Coralville, Iowa with her husband Matt, a labor educator.
UPDATE: In response to my inquiry, Evan Burger provided some background on January 17 about Iowa CCI’s work with SEIU in recent years, and the process through which CCI Action endorsed Glasson.
[B]oth Iowa CCI and CCI Action have worked closely with SEIU over the last ten years – around the banking crisis, various electoral campaigns, and most recently the Fight for $15. They’re a valuable partner for us (and our national network People’s Action), and occasionally they have contributed financially to the work that we’ve done together.
However, that financial relationship did not play any role in our endorsement process. As you might know, our endorsements are entirely member-led. Last June, the CCI Action board voted to form a 27-member gubernatorial endorsement committee. Over the next three months, that committee drafted a candidate questionnaire, reviewed the candidates’ responses to that questionnaire, held hour-long screening meetings with four of the candidates, and drafted a survey that was sent to key CCI Action members. At the end of this process, the endorsement committee voted unanimously to endorse Cathy, and the board unanimously approved that decision.
Money for CCI/CCI Action was never considered as a factor in any stage of this process. Our endorsement committee and board made their decision because they thought that Cathy lines up with us on our core issues, as well as our “theory of change”: that no single candidate is going to solve our problems for us, that it’s up to us to move our agenda and create big change, and that we need a grassroots movement of everyday Iowans standing up, speaking out, engaged and active in their communities, and in the streets, 365 days a year – not just at election time.