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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 18, 2018

Democrats address campaign criticisms in final debate

Polls open for party primaries from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday
By Erin Murphy, Lee Des Moines Bureau | Jun 01, 2018
Photo by: Rod Boshart/Des Moines Bureau The five Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for governor are shown before their Wednesday evening debate in Des Moines. They are (from left) John Norris, Fred Hubbell, Ross Wilburn, Cathy Glasson and Andy McGuire.

DES MOINES – Fred Hubbell insisted Iowa voters do not care that he is a wealthy businessman from a wealthy Des Moines family.

Cathy Glasson said she does not need to move to the political center in order to win a general election.

John Norris said his experience in the nation’s capital is a strength, not a weakness.

Andy McGuire said she is proud of her work as state party chairwoman despite the 2016 election outcomes for Democrats.

And Ross Wilburn said his anemic fundraising would not be an issue this fall.

The five Democrats in the race to become their party’s nominee for governor addressed current and potential criticisms of their candidacies during the third and final gubernatorial debate on Wednesday night at the State Historical Building here.

The primary election is Tuesday. The Democratic winner will face Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and a Libertarian candidate, also to be determined in the primary, in this fall’s general election.

Hubbell, a Des Moines businessman who this year has plugged $2 million into his own campaign, said Iowa voters will not pay attention to potential general election attacks that may portray him as out-of-touch with workers living paycheck to paycheck. Immediately after the debate, the Republican Party of Iowa issued a statement calling Wednesday’s debate “a final coronation for Sir Frederick Hubbell” and calling Hubbell “an elitist, out of touch candidate.”

“I don’t think Iowans care what your background is,” Hubbell said. “I think what Iowans want to know about is do you care about them, do you listen to them, and are you going to improve their lives.”

Glasson, a nurse and labor leader from Coralville, said she would not have to shift her campaign in the general election after campaigning on some of the most progressive policies during the primary, including universal, single-payer health care and a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“I don’t think we need to move to the center at all. I think that’s why Democrats have lost 11 of the last 14 governor’s races in this state,” Glasson said. “This is about getting voters excited and Iowans excited about going to the polls again.”

Norris defended his time served in Washington, D.C., where he served under former President Barack Obama and federal agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor, and the suggestion that made him a “Washington insider.” Norris now lives in Des Moines.

“If I’m a Washington insider, it’s because we went to Washington to serve Iowans. That’s why we left,” Norris said. “I think those experiences I had add to my ability to be governor of this state.”

McGuire, a physician and former state party chairwoman from Des Moines, said she and state party workers did everything in their power to elect Democrats in 2016, but were overcome by a national wave that boosted Republicans.

“I’m proud of what we did,” McGuire said. “When a national wave comes over the top, there’s not much you can do about it.”

Wilburn, a former Iowa City mayor, said his lack of fundraising should not concern Democrats because the party will unify after the primary and support the candidate. He has raised just $13,718 during the campaign, according to state records.

“There have been Democrats that have been out-funded in the past,” Wilburn said. “And we’ve had winners and losers.”

Earlier Wednesday, Reynolds signed into law a package of state tax cuts that, pending a defined rate of economic growth, are projected to cut Iowa individual and business taxes by nearly $3 billion over six years and reduce state revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Glasson said she would like to redraw the state’s tax structure to make it “progressive and not regressive” and “so the wealthy are paying their fair share.” She also broached the idea of legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana.

Hubbell said he would have vetoed the bill that Reynolds signed into law, but now that it’s on the books he would not advocate for a complete repeal. He said he would keep some elements, like taxing online businesses to level the playing field with brick and mortar stores, the elimination of federal deductibility, and a panel review of the state’s myriad tax credit and incentive programs.

Each of the five candidates has supported returning to state management of the state’s $5 billion Medicaid program. Former Gov. Terry Branstad shifted management to private health care companies, and Reynolds has supported the move.

The candidates gave various timelines for such a transition. Norris said it could take up to two years in order to rehire state staff and ensure the safe transition of patients. Hubbell said his expectation would be the transition could be completed within a year from taking office.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Joseph Peiffer | Jun 02, 2018 16:44

Slide 1 of 136: Scott Stantis/Chicago Tribune

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