Cedar Rapids lawmakers consider run for governor's office

Hogg encouraging Olson to run

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CEDAR RAPIDS – A pair of Cedar Rapids lawmakers are exploring the possibility of running for governor in 2014.

However, it appears unlikely there will be an intra-city race for the Democratic nomination because one of them is encouraging the other to run.

Sen. Rob Hogg and Rep. Tyler Olson both confirm speculation they are among several Democrats who may seek the party’s nomination to run, presumably, against five-term Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.

Branstad hasn’t said whether he will seek a sixth term, but recently had a $600,000 fundraiser with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Hogg, 45, hasn’t made a decision about 2014 “except that I’m running for something.” He served two terms in the Iowa House before being elected to the Senate in 2006. He was re-elected in 2010 and in 2013 will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. If he doesn’t run for governor, Hogg will seek re-election to a third Senate term.

Part of his thought process includes the fact he believes “one of the people who would make a phenomenal candidate is my state representative, Tyler Olson.”

At this point, Olson appears to be more actively considering a candidacy.

Olson, 36, vice president of Paulson Electric, was first elected to the House in 2006. He is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

He believes Iowa has to press the advantages of having an economy and state financial position that is stronger than other states’.

“It’s important that state government recognize that economic development is more than a massive commercial property tax cut and giving hundreds of millions of dollars to companies to entice them to locate here,” Olson said.

He wants to foster a strong entrepreneurial climate and a skilled workforce to meet the needs of companies trying to grow in Iowa.

“We need to take a bigger picture approach to our education system,” Olson continued. “Great teachers and administrators are being let down by an antiquated system focused on skills that aren’t as important in today’s economy. We need a system to foster critical thinking and creativity.’

Olson, who indicated he will make no decision until after the 2013 legislative session, said he understand that “we need to rethink how we approach some of our challenges and opportunities and have a different vision for what those things mean today.”

Another possibility for Olson is being chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. He has spoken to party leaders about succeeding Sue Dvorsky of Coralville, who is not seeking another terms as chairwoman.

As for Hogg, the ultimate question is “whether that’s a job I want.”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s any question I could do a better job than the current governor,” he said, citing Branstad’s “unprecedented lack of investment in education, the failure to deal with flooding or drought in any meaningful way, the lack of fulfilling his promises on job creation, this whole series of things he’s done poorly.”

“That’s one of the reasons why there are several Democrats interested in making the race,” he said.

Among the others are former Gov. Chet Culver, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, and Sens. Jack Hatch of Des Moines and Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls, former Iowa Democratic operative John Norris, now with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and former Gov. Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie Vilsack, who was an unsuccessful congressional candidate this year.

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