Dahl claims right skill set, vision for Iowa governor

49-year-old father of two is transit bus driver for MIDAS

Paul Dahl of Webster City is seeking the Democratic nomination for Iowa governor in 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Paul Dahl of Webster City is seeking the Democratic nomination for Iowa governor in 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

If all goes according to plan, Paul Dahl will be earning his PhD in sociology while he’s serving as governor of Iowa.

“I’d probably focus on change and management leadership,” the Webster City Democrat said Monday afternoon after attending a Veterans for Peace Veteran’s Day observance in Iowa City.

It wouldn’t be the first time Dahl, a 49-year-old father of two, has held a second – or even third – job, and says he’s not afraid of the work. The transit bus driver for Mid-Iowa Development Association (MIDAS) also is setting ambitious goals in his bid for the 2014 Democratic nomination for governor.

“With my background – my education, my job experience, my ethics and energy, I bring a lot to the table as governor,” he said. “I think I have the best background among the Democrats running.”

While three others seeking the nomination have legislative experience he lacks, Dahl said his experience as a middle manager in state government gives him a perspective on how government ought to work.

“It’s a different skill set,” he said. “That’s different than being a state legislator.

The governor’s main task is to make sure state government is working,” he said, “and to provide a vision to the state Legislature, to challenge the Legislature.”

Dahl’s vision, which he calls his “Significant Seven,” focuses heavily on increasing the number of farms and farmers, and broadening crop diversity, developing renewable fuels, developing interstate and intrastate high-speed rail, abolishing corporate taxes along with raising the minimum wage, greater investments in education, improving health care and reforming criminal justice.

Dahl acknowledges that he’s considered a longshot in the race against better-known and better-financed Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines and Rep. Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids, and former lawmaker Bob Krause of Des Moines.

“It’s not about the money,” he said. “I’ll get more out of my money.”

He’s kept campaign costs low by campaigning outside football games and hitching rides to and from events.

Dahl believes his grassroots approach will pay off in the general election when he cuts into the small town, rural Iowa base Branstad depends on to offset Democrats’ advantage in larger cities.

“I like to say the others are ‘city guys,’” he said. “They’re not out there in the little towns like they need to be.”He’ll be out there on the Internet soon when his campaign website— -- goes live next week and also via his Facebook page,