Government

Reynolds, Hubbell trade punches from a safe distance at Iowa Republicans, Democrats hold party conventions

Democratic candidates for state and federal government positions including gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell (center, waving) stand on the stage as delegates cheer during the Iowa State Democratic Convention at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Democratic candidates for state and federal government positions including gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell (center, waving) stand on the stage as delegates cheer during the Iowa State Democratic Convention at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — The gloves were off as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and her Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell threw punches at each other from the safety of their respective political fan bases.

At the Democratic Party state convention Saturday, Hubbell accused Reynolds of “fiscal mismanagement, misguided priorities and an extreme agenda.”

“She’s dismantling everything that makes our state a great state,” Hubbell told more than 700 delegates at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.

Across town at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Reynolds lambasted Hubbell, accusing the wealthy, retired Des Moines businessman— who spent nearly $3 million of his own money during the competitive Democratic primary— of attempting to buy the election. She also criticized him for not believing Iowa is the No. 1 state in the nation.

“Are you kidding me? That man wants to lead this state, and he just announced to the rest of the country and the rest of the world that Iowa isn’t the best place to live. Wow,” Reynolds said about Hubbell during a debate that he disagreed with U.S. News rating of Iowa as the No. 1 state. “Should someone who doesn’t think Iowa is the best place to live be the governor of the state of Iowa? So Fred, if you don’t think Iowa is the best place to live, I think you don’t know Iowa.”

Neither candidates’ charges were new and likely will be repeated on the campaign trail for the next 142 days until the Nov. 6 general election.

Reynolds, 58, Gov. Terry Branstad’s lieutenant governor for six years, hopes to win election to the job she’s held for a year since Branstad was appointed United States ambassador to China in May 2017.

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Hubbell, 67, won a six-way Democratic primary, capturing 55 percent of the vote. Speaking to the Democratic activists Saturday, Hubbell gave a shout out to his primary election opponents — Cathy Glasson, Ross Wilburn, Andy McGuire and John Norris. He didn’t mention Sen. Nate Boulton, the choice of many labor unions, who suspended his campaign after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

“We need to have every single person in this room to be united together by our shared, core values,” Hubbell said.

There was a lot of talk of unity from Hubbell and his newly announced running mate, Sen. Rita Hart, D-Wheatland.

“We must unite urban and rural Iowa,” Hubbell said. “We are all Iowans and we stand united by a simple vision that if we invest in the future we are all going to benefit, our children will benefit and our grandchildren will benefit.”

Reynolds and Republicans don’t think Hubbell understands rural Iowa and the people who live there.

Photos from the Democratic Party Convention

Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, portrayed Hubbell as elite and out of touch.

“Prince Fred Hubbell doesn’t have a clue about rural Iowa,” Kaufmann said to the convention crowd in his typical fiery manner of speaking. “He is an eastern, elitist, far-left, academic, arrogant person that just wants to add another shiny object into his reward room. That’s who Fred Hubbell is.”

His comments were not an attack on Hubbell’s wealth, Kaufmann said, but rather his “attitude, and not getting it.”

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Iowans celebrate wealth, Reynolds said, “but I have to ask, does (Hubbell) really understand the tough decisions that families have to make every day to make ends meet? Does he really realize the extra dollars in their paychecks, it’s not crumbs. It’s gas. It’s groceries. It’s necessities.”

Hart, who said she did not expect to be on the ticket until the campaign contacted her earlier in the week, accepted the challenge “to stand with Fred Hubbell to turn this state around.”

A farmer, former teacher and second-term senator, Hart, 62, said she has always “been committed to try to make the world a better place by doing as much as I can for as many as possible.”

“Together, united, we are ready to take the fight to Gov. Reynolds and the Republicans this November,” Hart said.

However, the GOP says Hubbell is fooling himself if he believes that choosing Hart as his running mate “will somehow hide his weaknesses in rural Iowa,” added GOP spokesman Jesse Dougherty.

“Hubbell and Hart will take Iowa backward to when Hubbell’s allies bankrupted the state with budget decisions that we’re still paying for,” Dougherty said. “Come November, Iowans won’t side with an overwhelmingly negative agenda, while Republicans will continue talking about the positive agenda that Gov. Reynolds has delivered on that is moving our state forward.”

Reynolds touted Republicans’ record over the past two years of their complete control of the state lawmaking process. She called the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions the most “pro-job and pro-growth” in decades, and noted new measures reforming the state’s mental health care system, programs to help fill middle- to high-skilled job vacancies and funding for water quality programs and K-through-12 public education.

Hubbell’s assessment of her record was more negative. Despite slashing education funding, rolling back access to health care, defunded Planned Parenthood, stripped collective bargaining rights, “she keeps somehow funding the money to fully fund the wasteful corporate giveaways.”

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“She said I’m running to undo all she’s done, and she’s right,” he said.

But he said he’s not running just against Reynolds’s “failed record,” but to promote his vision for “getting Iowa growing the right way.”

He called for more spending on education and job training to Iowans can get the jobs government is going to create, ensuring heath care, including mental health care, and enhancing Iowa’s infrastructure by improving internet connectivity and housing. Hubbell wants to preserve topsoil and protect water quality, raise the minimum wage and restore public employee collective bargaining rights.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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