DES MOINES - Democrat Fred Hubbell has chosen state Sen. Rita Hart to be his running mate in the race to recapture the Iowa governor’s office that has been occupied by Republicans for the past eight years.
Hubbell, 67, a retired Des Moines businessman, chose Hart, 62, a farmer and educator from Wheatland, a Clinton County community of less than 800 people, to be his lieutenant governor candidate. She represents Clinton County and the northern and eastern part of Scott County.
“It’s a big challenge,” Hart said Friday night. “It’s making my heart race.”
Hubbell, who has never held elected office, called Hart a “talented, results-driven leader” who brings experience to the ticket.
Hubbell, who announced his running mate choice in a news release Friday night that was embargoed for Saturday morning publication, said she will help “to reverse the disastrous direction of this governor and this administration.”
He was referring to Gov. Kim Reynolds, 58, a county treasurer and state senator before winning election as Gov. Terry Branstad’s running mate in 2010. Reynolds became governor in May 2017 when Branstad was appointed U.S. ambassador to China.
Hart, an assistant minority leader in the Iowa Senate who was seeking re-election, promised to “fight tooth and nail” alongside Hubbell.
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“In Big Rock, Wheatland and communities like it across rural Iowa, we’ve borne the brunt of Gov. Reynolds and this Republican Legislature’s extreme right-wing agenda that has reduced access to health care, underfunded our schools and put out-of-state corporations over local investment.”
Hart’s selection as a running mate gives the ticket the gender balance and urban-rural balance Iowa governor-lieutenant governor teams have had since the governor and lieutenant governor began running as a team in the 1990s — Tom Vilsack - Sally Pederson, Chet Culver - Patty Judge, Branstad - Reynolds and Reynolds - Adam Gregg.
But her selection was more than checking boxes, Hart said.
“When we’re looking for a running mate, you want to pick someone who complements the top of the ticket, someone with a different perspective and background but shares the same values and approaches decision-making the same,” she said. “That’s what we have — the same visions for the state — that people come first.”
Hubbell was not Hart’s first choice in the Democratic primary, where she had endorsed her Senate colleague, state Sen. Nate Boulton of Des Moines. But after three women accused Boulton of sexual misconduct, Hart called on him to resign his seat.
It’s important for Hubbell and the party to reach out to Boulton’s supporters, Hart said.
The Boulton supporters are people “who’ve had some tough things happen to them and they’re looking for someone who’s going to stand up for them,” Hart said.
To introduce his running mate, the Hubbell campaign is releasing a video, “Meet Rita.”
It shows her on the farm she and her husband, Paul, have owned and operated since 1986.
“I decided to run for office to make the world a better place. And that means you gotta give,” Hart says in the one-minute video. “It’s time to work together to get things done. Just like we do it on the farm.”
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Hart has experience on the Clinton County Planning and Zoning and Coordinating Justice commissions. She serves on the county economic development council, coordinates high school international exchanges, is a cantor at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Long Grove and sits on the Clinton Salvation Army board.
Hubbell and Hart will speak to Democratic activists at the party’s state convention at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines today.
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