Staff Columnist

Democratic rivals play union card

Capitol Ideas: With primary coming June 5, more take to airwaves

State Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, speaks to a labor rally Thursday, April 19, 2018, in the Iowa Capitol after receiving the endorsement of the Iowa Federation AFL-CIO. James Q. Lynch/Gazette Des Moines Bureau
State Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, speaks to a labor rally Thursday, April 19, 2018, in the Iowa Capitol after receiving the endorsement of the Iowa Federation AFL-CIO. James Q. Lynch/Gazette Des Moines Bureau
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DES MOINES — Two of the Democratic candidates for governor last week staked lanes in the race for union support.

Nate Boulton received a key labor endorsement, while Cathy Glasson called on campaigns to detail their support for union rights.

Nate Boulton, one of the six Democrats running to be the party’s nominee for governor, was endorsed by the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. The union says it represents 250,000 public and private workers throughout Iowa.

Boulton, a legislator from Des Moines, became the Iowa Senate Democrats’ point man in the 2017 debate over Republican-led changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws for public employees.

“Working people are tired of the same old ideas that have led our state to the brink of financial disaster, led us to the underfunding of schools and disregard for our children’s education, led us to low wages and poor opportunities,” Ken Sagar, AFL-CIO’s president, said in a statement about the endorsement.

Boulton is supported by more than 30 union organizations, according to his campaign.

Glasson called on the Democratic candidates to detail their specific plans for protecting and expanding union rights.

In addition to her pledge to restore the collective bargaining rights eliminated by the aforementioned Republican-led changes — something all of the Democratic candidates have said they would support — Glasson has said the state should allow “fair share” unions fees paid by non-union members, eliminate right-to-work laws, protect workers against “at will” firings and develop policies making it easier for workers to form and join unions.

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Glasson is a registered nurse and labor leader from Coralville. She is endorsed by the labor group Service Employees International Union, whose membership across the country donated more than $1.8 million to her campaign in 2017, according to campaign finance records.

“It’s not enough for Democrats running for governor and the Iowa Legislature to simply declare support for unions. It’s time for bold leaders to step forward and pledge to support progressive, new policies that dramatically expand the number of union members in this state and country,” Glasson said in a statement. “Anything else is just lip service.”

The other Democratic candidates for governor are Fred Hubbell, Andy McGuire, John Norris and Ross Wilburn. The primary is June 5.

HUBBELL TOPS SPENDING

Hubbell has spent far and away the most money on television advertising in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, according to research published by the liberal political website Iowa Starting Line.

Hubbell has spent nearly $2.3 million on TV ads, five times as much as Boulton, who has been the next-highest spender, Starting Line said.

Boulton has spent $463,000 on TV ads, Glasson $254,000 and McGuire $97,000, Starting Line reported. Hubbell is the only candidate to buy airtime statewide.

MCGUIRE IS ON AIR

McGuire’s ad buy makes her the fourth candidate to air ads on TV in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

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McGuire’s first ad, entitled “Caring,” focuses on her background in health care. McGuire is a physician. It notes her campaign pledge to bolster Iowa’s mental health care system and her call to end private management of the state’s $5 billion Medicaid program.

The ad will begin airing soon, the McGuire campaign announced.

DEBATES SET

Three debates for the Democratic gubernatorial primary have been confirmed: May 13, hosted by the Quad-City Times and KWQC; May 16, hosted by Iowa Public Television; and May 30, hosted by the Des Moines Register and KCCI.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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