Fred Hubbell’s campaign announced this morning that State Senator Rita Hart is his pick for lieutenant governor. Hart and her husband grow corn and soybeans on a 600-acre farm near Wheatland (Clinton County). She previously taught in a rural school district for more than 20 years “before moving on to run educational programs that help young people find jobs with local businesses.” I enclose below the full news release and a campaign video in which Hart introduces herself as an “educator, farmer, a mother, and a volunteer.”
Speaking to the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel, Hart said, “I want (people) to know that I’m not stepping up to this title. I’m stepping up to the responsibility, and I will always keep their best interests in mind as I do that.”
“I like to surround myself with people that come at questions and issues and experiences in a much different way than I do,” Hubbell, 67, told the Register. “I think that makes the discussion richer, and you’re better able to get a better decision that way. So I was looking for somebody that’s very talented and capable, but not a lot like me. And I think I found her.”
Since long before Hubbell entered the race for governor, Hart has been seen as a possible running mate for the next Democratic nominee. The pick should help the ticket in eastern Iowa and among rural and small-town voters, where the party has lost ground in recent election cycles.
Hart was first elected in 2012 to represent Iowa Senate district 49, covering Clinton County and part of north Scott County (scroll down for a map). Normally only even-numbered Senate districts are on the ballot in presidential election years, but post-2010 redistricting created a seat with no incumbent in her area. Hart won a full four-year term in 2014 despite a GOP landslide statewide. She was facing a strong challenge this year from Republican business owner and school board president Chris Cournoyer. The latest voter registration numbers show a small advantage for Democrats, but as an open seat Senate district 49 should be a competitive race. The district’s residents favored Barack Obama for president in 2012, but Donald Trump outpolled Hillary Clinton here by 51.7 percent to 42.0 percent.