CEDAR RAPIDS — Eight candidates hoping to the next governor of Iowa played nice with each other Saturday morning, preferring to direct their barbs at the incumbent instead.
Forty-five days before the June 5 primary election, the Democratic and Libertarian candidates revealed few big-picture differences during the League of Women Voters of Iowa forum at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids that drew about 300 people. A livestream of the forum was viewed at 51 watch parties around the state, the League said.
For the most part, the candidates agreed that public K-12 education, health care and mental health should be priorities for the governor.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds frequently was criticized for selling out to corporate interests, maintaining privatized management of Medicaid and state budgeting practices that led to midyear cuts and borrowing from reserve funds.
“You could make a horror film out of this (administration),” Libertarian Jake Porter said. “Boris Karloff could come back and play Kim Reynolds.”
Among Democrats, retired businessman Fred Hubbell called Reynolds “misguided.” Physician Andy McGuire said the governor “puts profits ahead of people” and John Norris, a former aide to Sen. Tom Harkin and Gov. Tom Vilsack, accused her of practicing Reagan-era “trickle-down economics.” Her “monumental” water quality bill — the first piece of legislation Reynolds signed into law — was nothing but “leftovers from last year,” state Sen. Nate Boulton of Des Moines said.
Looking ahead, Iowa State University diversity officer Ross Wilburn said the election is about Iowa’s legacy of high-quality education, productive workers, welcoming outsiders and rural-urban cooperation. He said he would “build upon the legacy that has been destroyed by the current governor.”
That can be achieved only by “doing politics differently,” nurse and union leader Cathy Glasson of Coralville said. “Status quo policies and politics isn’t getting the job done in Iowa.”
While most of the candidates said they supported the Second Amendment, but called for “common sense” gun laws, Libertarian Marco Battaglia said too many people ignore the “elephant in the room. This is things that are happening in our community — drug violence, drug trafficking, human trafficking.”
Candidates frequently mentioned their experience as a reason for voters to support them. Boulton reminded the audience he has voted on many of the issues being discussed.
McGuire and Glasson referenced answers through their medical experiences and talked about being able to work in collaborative ways to address problems.
Although he has served in a number of roles in state government, Hubbell said he’s not a politician. That might sound good to voters, Norris said, but “it’s OK to recognize the value of being a good politicians because that’s how you drive the public toward good decisions.”
There is speculation that none of the six Democrats will get the 35 percent in the June 5 primary needed to win the nomination outright, and that the nominee will be determined at the party’s June 16 state convention.
Early voting in the primary begins May 7.
The eventual nominees will face Reynolds in the Nov. 6 election. The winner will be sworn into office in January.
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