Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

Iowa Press | Episode
May 16, 2018 | 87 min

In the past half century of Iowa politics, democrats have held Iowa's governorship for only a dozen years. The men and women standing behind podiums are all seeking the democratic nomination for Governor in the 2018 primary election. They are Cathy Glasson, a registered nurse and union leader from Coralville. Ross Wilburn, a former Mayor of Iowa City. Dr. Andy McGuire, a Des Moines resident and recent Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. Nate Boulton, a State Senator representing Des Moines. Fred Hubbell, a businessman from Des Moines. And John Norris, a former Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Vilsack who also resides in Des Moines.


The clock is ticking down. Now less than three weeks remaining until Primary Day in Iowa. Where do democrats running for Governor stand on the issues? We gather six candidates here at Iowa PBS for this special live Iowa Press Debate.


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For decades Iowa Press has brought you political leaders and newsmakers from across Iowa and beyond. Celebrating more than 40 years of broadcast excellence on statewide Iowa PBS, this is a special Iowa Press Debate, live from Iowa PBS's Maytag Auditorium in Johnston. Here is moderator David Yepsen.


Yepsen: In the past half century of Iowa politics, democrats have held Iowa's governorship for only a dozen years. The men and women standing behind podiums at Iowa PBS tonight are all seeking the democratic nomination for Governor in a primary election only three weeks away. They are Cathy Glasson, a registered nurse and union leader from Coralville. Ross Wilburn, a former Mayor of Iowa City. Dr. Andy McGuire, a Des Moines resident and recent Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. Nate Boulton, a State Senator representing Des Moines. Fred Hubbell, a businessman from Des Moines. And John Norris, a former Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Vilsack who also resides in Des Moines.

Yepsen: We have expanded this program to 90 minutes in an effort to accommodate additional issues and questions among all six candidates, similar to Iowa Press. There are no set time limits and candidate interactions as well as follow-up questions are at my discretion and our fellow panelists here. We hope for a spirited and thorough debate of Iowa issues. Joining the conversation are political reporters Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa and James Lynch of the Gazette.

Yepsen: First of all, I want to start the questions just be thanking all of you for offering yourselves for public service. I know something about the life you lead on a campaign trail. So I want to thank you for that. I also hear from a lot of people who ask me who is going to win? I don't know who they are. So let's open our conversation this evening and I'll start with you, John Norris, and we'll give everyone time to answer this question. Who are you? How do you differentiate yourself from these other candidates? And maybe why are you the most electable in November?

Norris: Good, thank you, David. Who am I? I'm a Southwest Iowa farm kid who has done work over my life in government, business and politics. I was Chief of Staff to Governor Vilsack. I was Chair of the Iowa Utilities Board. I've owned a restaurant business and now I own a small business in Des Moines. I was head of the state Farm Unity Coalition in the Farm Crisis in the 1980s. I served in the Obama administration as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations for Ag Policy and as a fellow energy commissioner. I spent my life fighting for economic and social justice. I believe to win this election we have to have someone who is experiencing in managing in government, I've managed at the state and federal level, and in business, particularly because Kim Reynolds' mismanagement of our government is what we have to draw a distinction on. And to go against her we need someone who can actually gain the trust of Iowans, that we're ready to step in day one and straighten out the mess that she has created.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: Thank you. So I'm a fifth generation Iowan, a lifelong progressive democrat. I used to work in the private sector, ran the Younkers department store business in the 1980s during the Farm Crisis. After that I was in charge of the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa with agencies all across Iowa and the rest of the country. Then Governor Culver asked me twice to go to work for state government. The first time was to lead the Iowa Power Fund, the chair of the board of directors there. For four years we looked at 400 different investments, invested in 60 of those to help Iowa continue to be a leader of renewable energy and renewable fuels all across Iowa. Then we had the film tax credit scandal at the Department of Economic Development. Governor Culver asked me to go in there and fix the film tax credit scandal and we did, we saved Iowans millions of dollars. So I've got a long career in both the private sector and the public sector delivering results. But my wife and I have also been very busy in the community we call Iowa. I used to chair the Planned Parenthood Board. I chaired the Simpson College Board, the Iowa College Foundation Board. MY wife and I helped Broadlawns General Hospital expand their mental health services. She and I both worked in the environmental area trying to improve our air and water quality for the last ten or twelve years. Unfortunately, we haven't made enough progress in that area. But we have worked hard at it. So I think I'm the kind of candidate that has got a lot of experience in the public and private sector delivering results. I've also worked to support and improve the quality of life and the progressive values that make Iowa a special place.

Yepsen: Nate Boulton.

Boulton: I'm Nate Boulton. I'm the State Senator who represents East Des Moines and Pleasant Hill in the Iowa Senate. But I actually grew up in Southeast Iowa, Columbus Junction is my hometown. My mom and stepdad still live on a heritage farm just outside of Columbus Junction in rural Louisa County. When we start talking about this election and the opportunity democrats have here, we have a state that is on the brink and when we start talking about how we are going to win in November it's going to be narrow in that divide, urban versus rural, and bringing people together on our shared values, something I have been proud to do in the Iowa Senate, standing up to some extreme legislation, standing with so many Iowans who are ready to stop fighting back and start pushing forward to a new vision for Iowa's future. We do that by showing Iowans that we share values in terms of fully funding our schools, making sure our economy works for everyone, doing the things we can to protect our natural resources while making sure Iowa feeds the world as well. When we talk about health care, it's an Iowa value to take care of each other. Those are the things that I have been proud to fight for in the Iowa Senate and I didn't wait for the Iowa Senate to start standing up to this administration. I'm proud of the work that I have done as a worker's rights attorney, standing up to this administration, taking them all the way to the Supreme Court when they have done things that have threatened the lives of vulnerable Iowans and demonized public employees.

Yepsen: Andy McGuire.

McGuire: Well, it's great that you had this tonight. I'm a Waterloo native from a family of eight. My dad was a World War II veteran, came home and started a construction machinery business, my mom stayed home with us and I learned about caring about others. And that is so important I think because I think people feel like we're not caring about them right now. When I go all over Iowa that's what I hear and that's why I became a medical doctor, Dave, because I could see the power of caring about other people, especially when they're sick or injured. But what I hear from Iowans all the time right now is they feel like they're having profits put ahead of people. And when I hear about the issues they're concerned about, it's the privatization of Medicaid. You ask the difference between me and Kim Reynolds? I actually have run a Medicaid program and gotten people healthier and done it in a good way. And right now we have a mess that they have created. And I have the expertise I believe to really change that and help people. We have a mental health crisis and substance abuse and addiction. I have worked with that in my health care career. I know how to fix that and that's what I'm hearing about all over Iowa that people are suffering and right now we're not doing enough about that. I've certainly been a supporter of women's health and what we've done recently with Kim Reynolds there couldn't be a starker difference between where I stand and where Kim Reynolds stands. And then we talk about education. I've been a champion for early childhood education and making sure that every child in every zip code has good education and I hear about that everywhere. So I think I have some unique expertise from my medical background and my education background that really make me uniquely qualified to take on Kim Reynolds and beat her.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn.

Wilburn: I'm Ross Wilburn and I'm a proud graduate of Davenport Central High School, so a public education product. I also went to the University of Iowa and have a Masters of Social Work there. I am the candidate who has been elected to office three times. I've got twelve years of elected experience supporting the public and public issues. So I have more experience than everyone up here on the stage in terms of elected experience. I work at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach serving Iowans with our staff in all 99 counties, including youth, with agricultural programs, 4-H youth development, economic development, all of these are issues which kind of cut across what folks are here tonight. I served in the Iowa Army National Guard, the 682nd Engineers in Davenport. So I know personally and with family members who served in the Army what it's like for families to have their loved ones serving and the support they need when they return home. I'm also a proud parent and have family members that are part of the LGBTQ plus community. And these and some other areas in terms of water, education, diversity inclusion are issues that are important to Iowans and part of our Let's Be Iowa campaign.

Yepsen: And Cathy Glasson. Who are you? How do you differentiate yourself? And why are you the most electable?

Glasson: Well, thank you. And thanks for having us tonight. I'm Cathy Glasson. I grew up in the Northwest corner of Iowa in Spencer. My parents were non-college educated. Dad was a semi-truck driver and my mom worked at a Sears and Roebuck store. Back in those days they both were middle class Iowans that could raise two daughters and send us to college. This day in Iowa that's not the opportunity that most Iowans are feeling. I'm not the typical candidate running for Governor and I'm very proud of that. I'm not an attorney, I'm not a wealthy businessman, I am not an insurance executive. I'm an intensive care unit nurse for over 20 years. I'm also a union leader and an organizer. I'm also a wife, a mother and a grandmother. And I decided to run for Governor because I was sick and tired of watching everyday Iowans and working people in this state getting beat up. And I believe the number one job of a Governor is to raise wages and improve the standard of living for every Iowans. Our campaign is about lifting up every day Iowans to get engaged in the political process again and get them excited to go to the polls. That's why I'm running on the most bold progressive agenda of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I'm the only democratic candidate that has come out bold and first on $15 with the shortest amount of timeframe to make that happen. I'm also a union leader that believes that we need to not only expand and reverse the attacks on unions, we need to make it easier for every worker to have a union no matter where they work and reverse right to work state laws. And then I'm the only democratic candidate from day one and still will commit to making sure that every Iowans has universal, single-payer health care, which unlike my opponents here today, they're great people, but no one is standing on single-payer health care. So we are clearly a different campaign. I'm clearly a different candidate. And I know together we can build a bold progressive Iowa if we let the people of Iowa lead.

Yepsen: And here to take us into some of these very issues that you all have been talking about, Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Candidates, let's talk specifics. As Governor you can do a lot of things, you just can't do everything. Mr. Boulton, what is the first bill that you would ask the legislature to pass if you were elected?

Boulton: One of the first things we have to do is start treating our workers in this state with dignity and respect again. We saw a heartless attack on workers across the board this last legislative session. We saw those answering the sacred call of public service be told they're entitled to lesser and fewer rights in the workplace than every other employee in our state. We're talking about our teachers, our firefighters, our police officers, our social workers, our public health nurses, the people we need to build safe and strong communities. But it didn't stop there. It was an attack of the rights of those injured on the job, putting their bodies on the line for economic progress in our state, being told that they're going to be entitled to lesser benefits if they suffer injuries from here on out. We saw a tax on the people that make safe and secure buildings and construction projects. So we're going to get back to treating our workers with dignity and respect in the workplace, reverse those changes and actually start making progress so people choose to come to Iowa for a quality of life knowing they'll be respected and have rights in the workplace.

Henderson: So you're going to ask them to repeal legislation that the republican-led legislature enacted. Mr. Norris, what will be the first bill that you would ask legislators to pass?

Norris: Well, appropriations usually comes late in the process but the most important thing we can do is fund education. It's the backbone. When I think of Iowa values it's love for the land, a sense of community and that fundamental belief that public education is the great equal opportunity provider. We have just woefully inadequately funded education over the last several years in this state and we've got some catching up to do to build a future for our children for this state.

Henderson: Ms. Glasson, what would be the first bill that you would ask the legislature to pass?

Glasson: My first day in office I'm going to call on the legislature to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And as Governor I will actually use my executive authority to make sure that state contracts with our employees are at a minimum wage of $15 an hour and also ensure that any state contracts done by any companies with the state of Iowa are on a path to the $15 minimum wage for their employees as well. I will veto any anti-labor legislation that crosses my desk as Governor. And I'll work to make sure that the principles anyone doing business with state government that gets any taxpayer dollars has to meet guiding principles to let their workers form a union without intimidation and fear.

Henderson: Mr. Wilburn, what is number one for you?

Wilburn: Appropriations do come a little later in the process but there's some things layered along with education, K-12 education and higher education. We can layer in some comprehensive mental health care and make sure it's available and accessible for youth and families that are struggling with untapped potential because young people are not engaged, fully engaged at school.

Henderson: Ms. McGuire?

McGuire: I would go to health care because we've got 600,000 Iowans who are suffering under this Medicaid mess. I hear stories every day about dads whose special needs kids are going to have to be put in institutions. I hear about moms who have disabled children who have to drive an hour and a half to get them care. So I think that's really an emergency and we need to do that right away. And that has a corollary of also helping with mental health, substance abuse and addiction because some of the payment methods we're doing right now are really hurting that. We have 120,000 people that probably have serious mental illness in this state that we are not giving the resources to. We're 50th in mental health beds, 47th in providers and honestly everybody knows that we've turned our law enforcement into our first line mental health providers. So I think that is something that I would want to do at the beginning to make sure that patients are taken care of.

Henderson: And Mr. Hubbell?

Hubbell: Well, the first thing I would do is not a bill. I would reverse the privatization of Medicaid on day one and start the process of bringing that back into our state. The first bill I would do is to fully fund pre-K and K-12 public education.

Yepsen: Any of you want to react to anything that has been said here about the first priorities? John Norris?

Norris: Obviously you asked for a bill in legislation, but by executive action the most important thing that the Governor can do I think in this state and I will do day one is, as Fred said, I think we all will, reverse this privatization of Medicaid. It's a disaster and it's hurting our most vulnerable Iowans. So it's a combination of executive action and legislation.

McGuire: It really should be a bill because we ought to be involving hearings and the legislature, which we didn't do the first time, so that we can actually take care of patients.

Wilburn: The piece that I would add, day one is kind of a symbolic and important thing, but it starts the day after the general election. It's a process to put a system in place to restore both the oversight and make sure that appropriate funds -- so it actually starts the day after to put a group together to put that in place.

Yepsen: James?

Lynch: This is sort of a corollary question. But after two years of all GOP control at the Capitol there are a lot of things that democrats want to change. As Governor, what would be the first thing you would want to undo. And how would you go about that? Let's start with you, Ms. Glasson.

Glasson: I think, gosh there are so many things that have happened. I don't know where to start. We have the anti-immigration bill. We just banned the ability for women to access safe and legal abortions in this state. The public funding of education is a mess. Honestly, James, I don't know where I would start because it is such a mess driven by this Governor who obviously wants Iowa to be at the race at the bottom for what we're doing for the people of Iowa. So there is just so much to talk about. Honestly, I can't pick one. But I can give you more of a laundry list of what needs to be fixed.

Lynch: Ms. McGuire?

McGuire: I would re-fund, get the funding back for Planned Parenthood and reverse some of these just extreme laws that were passed against women's health.

Lynch: And how would you go about that?

McGuire: Well, you've got to work with the legislature to get the family planning waiver back. This was a great waiver that helped poorer people to get birth control, to access birth control. I was on the initiative to decrease unintended pregnancies and what we showed was if you get affordable, accessible health care for birth control you decrease abortion. That's what we ought to be talking about and yet we're doing just the reverse. So I would work with the legislature to get that funding back. It's a 90/10 match from the federal government to the state. We need to get that money back and be prioritizing women, not making them the bottom one.

Lynch: John Norris?

Norris: Well, obviously it takes a democratic legislature or a more progressive legislature to change anything which means why we have to win this Governor's race and take back the legislature is we as democrats have to show up with a plan for rural Iowa if we're going to win this race. We will not win the Governor's race or those legislative seats unless we win back votes in rural Iowa.

Yepsen: What specific thing would you want to undo?

Norris: I'm sorry? If I had the opportunity --

Yepsen: We're talking about making choices here.

Norris: Yeah, absolutely. And that is we've got to undo this fetal heartbeat bill. It's just damaging for Iowa, not just repulsive for taking away women's rights, but what talk is across the nation is don't go to Iowa. That's the last thing we needed for grandstanding is what they're doing.

Lynch: Mr. Hubbell?

Hubbell: Well, the list could go on and my fellow candidates have mentioned several very good ideas. But unfortunately, at the end of the day, most bills require money. We have a terrible fiscal mess in our state and we have a lot of unfunded priorities from this legislature because they don't have the right priorities and because they're not managing the budget properly. So the first thing I want to do is make sure that we stop the wasteful tax giveaways, put caps on all the credits, exemptions and deductions and put sunsets on all of those things so we can stop the money going out the door, the back door, and start taking that money to invest in education and health care and infrastructure so we can grow our economy and give people the health and education they deserve.

Lynch: Mr. Boulton, you talked about collective bargaining. Anything else you want to undo?

Boulton: Well, a if you watched me in the Iowa Senate the last two years there are plenty of things I want to undo. I was proud to stand up against a lot of things this administration did. But one of the things when Governor Reynolds was first sworn in I called upon her to do, to show that she was different, to show she was a leader was to actually do something about this privatized Medicaid mess that they did as a go it alone policy, didn't involve the legislature, just ran down a path. She could have shown that she was going to do something about the mistakes that she later admitted were made, didn't do it. I think we've got to prioritize on that.

Lynch: Ross Wilburn.

Wilburn: Where do you start is the big question. But I want to make sure I mention something that doesn't get a lot of talk. There were about, this is related to anti-human trafficking. There were I believe about ten bills introduced in this session and only two of them made it out of the first funnel. And many of these were related to funding training and observation, information to schools. I think there was also one related to making sure for some young folks that get sucked into prostitution that they're left in the juvenile system and not prosecuted as adults.

Yepsen: The question was what would you want to undo? What is the first thing you'd want to undo?

Wilburn: I realize that, it's just that it's not something that gets spoken about. But in terms of undoing something it would be the privatization of Medicaid.

Henderson: You have all criticized the GOP tax plan that cleared the legislature recently. Mr. Hubbell, what is your plan as the alternative?

Hubbell: Well, how long do we have?


Yepsen: Less than a minute.


Hubbell: I didn't think there were time limits here. But they have created serious issues in our state. The fiscal mismanagement has been doing on for at least five years. We had a $900 million surplus in this state in 2013. That's gone. Now the Governor owes $144 million to the reserve funds, which presumably in her budget gets paid back next year. But the budget also shows $100 million of deficits so we don't know what's going ot happen. The first thing I want to do about taxes is stop the wasteful tax giveaways for corporations and individuals. I was on a tax credit review panel in 2009 and '10 when we identified $160 million in annual savings. Let's go get that. Let's take that money, pay off the debt, then we should take what is left and put it in education and health care across our state so we can start investing in our future. At that point, to be honest, we're going to be a year or two out. Then we need to take a look at where we are revenue wise and fiscal wise, how is the economy performing? This tax law that they created unfortunately probably won't give us that leeway because they have already identified $100 million of deficit coming in next year so we're going to have to be making some other changes.

Henderson: Should it be appealed?

Hubbell: I don't - I'm not ready to say that should be repealed yet. But what I am ready to say, let's attack the corporate tax giveaways, let's take back the commercial property tax break. In the budget they don't maintain the backfill anymore so that means it's not creating value so we shouldn't continue that. They gave $30 million to a telecommunications company without getting anything in return. We should stop that. So that's $180 million plus the $160. That's $340 million we can use.

Lynch: Let's hear from everybody.


Norris: There's no way we can sustain a $2 billion tax cut in this state. We're underfunding education, we've got tremendous mental health needs, we've got a water quality problem to pick up, to fix up and most of these tax cuts went to millionaires. They get a $25,000 tax cut. People making $25,000 get about an $18 tax cut. They're the ones we need to be helping. We've got too much poverty in this state and there's a bigger shift in wealth.

Yepsen: Which taxes would you raise then? You just said you're going to repeal that republican tax bill. That's your answer to that question?

Norris: Yes and we start over. I think the sales tax on Internet sales was a good measure. Certainly raising, we need to raise the earned income tax credit and help those poor families in Iowa get ahead.

Yepsen: Cathy Glasson.

Glasson: Yeah, the damage is done with this tax cut. It is clearly a republican tax cut for the wealthy. Let's look at a family in Iowa or an individual making $40,000 a year. They'll see a tax savings under this legislation of $92. That same family making a million dollars or the individual making a million dollars is going to see tax savings of $19,000. Clearly this is a tax cut for the wealthy.

Henderson: So what would you do instead?

Glasson: Well, that we need to do -- well, now we're going to have to find creative ways to get more revenue into the state to cover the things we care about because this tax bill is going to put Iowa in a deficit for years to come and we aren't funding public education, we're not funding health care, we're not cleaning up our water. So we absolutely need to do -- and I would take a look as Governor, I would want to talk about reshifting a different tax plan that is not regressive and doesn't hurt folks at the lower income levels and has the more wealthy Iowans paying a little bit more.

Henderson: Mr. Boulton, what is your prescription?

Boulton: Well, first, obviously I voted against this in the Senate this year, spoke out against it. I'm on the Appropriations Committee in the Iowa Senate, our Budget Committee. What we've seen is a fiscal nightmare in state government because of this administration's inability to deal responsibly with our tax system. At a time when our unemployment rate is low and the economy is stable and growing we've seen raids of the rainy day funds and emergency budget transfers, major budget cuts and permanent budget cuts. And yet when they took up this bill, put it out on the floor, most people understand when you find yourself in a hole you quit digging, yet they exploded the hole.

Yepsen: So where do you go to get new money? You come into office, the state is running on fumes. Where do you go to get some -- what taxes do you raise?

Boulton: So it's about repealing some of the excessive corporate tax giveaways, the credits, the exemptions that are not yielding wage wealth for our state. We're not seeing results for those investments of Iowa taxpayer dollars. And I said Iowa taxpayer dollars because working families are paying for those giveaways. We're sending checks out of state, six to seven figure checks, so yes we want to cap some of those credits and exemptions, we want to review that system. I introduced a bill that said we need transparency in this process. If we're going to give away something voters need to see how many jobs we get from construction and how many jobs we get permanently. And I think we need a nominee that hasn't had a hand in the cookie jar on all this.

Henderson: Which among these folks had their hand in the cookie jar?

Boulton: Well, we take a look at some of the exemptions and giveaways that have happened. We've got people here that have been willing to give away some of those things, as much as $250,000 per job in some projects.

Henderson: Who?

Boulton: Mr. Hubbell was here, he was Director of Economic Development and tried to entice a company from out of state to invest in a project. I think we have to have somebody that has not shown that they're willing to engage in this coupon economics system that is failing our state right now.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell, your response?

Hubbell: I don't know what he's talking about. He didn't name any particular project or location. But when I went into economic development we had a film tax credit scandal that was costing Iowans tens of millions of dollars. We fixed that. We saved our state millions of dollars and we stopped giving away any state money to any project that did not have a prevailing wage requirement, which means that no money, no state money goes to any projects where the company coming in or the company growing wasn't helping wages to grow in their community, whereas today what's going on with the republicans in charge, they don't have that role so they bring in jobs from out of state that are bringing down the average pay.

Yepsen: We need to be fair to Andy McGuire and Ross Wilburn. Tax policy.

McGuire: I don't think we have a revenue problem, I think we have a priority problem. We've talked about these tax giveaways and I think it is something we have to look at. If I give you a dollar, if it's a good dollar, if it can give something back, a benefit to the taxpayer that's great. But we've got a lot of these that are really almost corporate welfare and we're giving it away. So I do think that is where you have to look and then take that money and put it towards the priorities of people which would be health care and education. So I do think that's -- and I'm good at math and I don't know how you do a budget where we've been cutting and doing cuts and then we're going to not have as much revenue with the cut. It makes no sense to me math wise.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn? Where do you go to get new money?

Wilburn: Repeal it, put a more progressive system in place. But I would also be revising the corporate tax base but also looking at even the outdoor recreation trust fund to try and pull some funding in that way.

Yepsen: I want to go back to this accusation you've made, Mr. Boulton, against Fred Hubbell. What are you talking about?

Boulton: So we're talking about in economic development we've seen an ongoing problem, it didn't start yesterday, it has been going on for years of overextending on these credits as much as $250,000, $400,000, $500,000 per job. This administration said they were going to create --

Yepsen: No, I'm talking about Fred Hubbell here.

Boulton: Right.

Yepsen: What did he do?

Henderson: So during Chet Culver's administration --

Boulton: Right, right.

Norris: Fred Hubbell was the head of the economic development department. He gave our $29 million in tax credits over those four months. I think that is probably what Nate is referring to. When Fred took it over the film tax credit had already been shut down. So he stepped in and helped clean it up. No doubt he helped clean it up, I'll give you credit for that absolutely. But then of the four months when Governor Culver asked him to stay on he said no, they got frustrated because the legislative committees wouldn't do what he wanted to do and so he didn't stay on and quit. So four months' experience in DED is hardly a lifetime.

Yepsen: What about that, Mr. Hubbell?

Hubbell: Well, neither of these gentlemen were there at the time. He wasn't even in the state, he was living out of state and he was, I don't know what he was doing but he wasn't anywhere close to the legislature. So I'll tell you what really was going on. What was going on is we had a scandal that if you talk to the Attorney General's Office the potential harm to our state was in the hundreds of millions of dollars when I went in there. And, correcting you, John, it was not stopped then. We stopped it because we couldn't stop it before. I had to work with the attorney general and figure out how do you stop it because we had claims coming from all over the place.

Norris: I was referring to the --


Hubbell: We had to go in and stop some and we had to support some and we had to win lawsuits against some.

Yepsen: One at a time, please. Cathy Glasson.

Glasson: Nobody here is answering your question. You need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and bring in tax revenue and create good jobs that are union jobs in this state. They can bicker all they want about what they did or didn't do but Iowans need a raise. We have 381,000 households in this state that can't make ends meet because our wages are too low. So to answer the question to create revenue, and there are other ways to do that besides just rolling back tax credits, so Iowans need to know what the options are and we need to clearly lay them out instead of bickering amongst each other on a tax credit here, a tax credit there.

Lynch: Back in 2010 Iowa voters said they supported a three-eighths of a cent sales tax for water quality and outdoor recreation. But they didn't vote to levy it. So, Ross Wilburn, you brought this up, will you lead an effort to pass a sales tax increase for water quality? And how will you get lawmakers, including democratic legislators, to vote for a tax hike?

Wilburn: Yes I would. About 63% of Iowans said let's do it. And a sales tax can be regressive. There's some other things, maybe the earned income tax we can try and balance, mitigate the effect on lower income Iowans. But let me tell you, I've got relatives who live in Flint, Michigan and I bet you they'd pay three-eighths of a penny to have clean water to this day.

Yepsen: Is it fair to say all of you would support raising that sales tax three-eighths of a penny? Anybody disagree with that? You disagree?

Glasson: Yeah, I disagree with that and I've been clear about that. Here's --

Yepsen: Where do you go to get money to clean up the environment?

Glasson: Hold corporate agribusiness and the complex of industry that has taken over our agricultural land in this state --

Yepsen: How do you do that?

Glasson: Hold them accountable --

Yepsen: No, how do you do that? A tax? A criminal penalty?

Glasson: Nitrogen, a liquid nitrogen tax, maybe increase the fertilizer tax that we're putting on swaths of corn and soybeans in this state and then stricter fines and penalties for the confined animal feeding operations when they pollute our waterways. It's not small family farmers I'm talking about or independent. These are the corporate agribusiness that have really overrun our state and we have lost independent family farming and we need to bring that back again. But can I just add one thing about what we were talking about over here? It's that one of my opponents down the row here talked about how the economy is good and unemployment is low. That is not the case. Again, we have 381,000 households struggling to pay their bills each month. The unemployment rate may be low in this state but the misery index of families is high. And I just think we need to be really clear about what the real economic situation in the state of Iowa is and it is caused by republican tax cuts and underfunding the things we care about.

Yepsen: And what about the three-eighths of a cent?

McGuire: You have to listen to the people. The people said, 63% of them said they wanted it. You have to listen to the people. But what I hear all the time is it's not even just about that revenue coming in, that revenue source. We need to get people all around the table, we need to stop demonizing certain people as having done this problem. This is all of our problem. We need to know where we are and as a scientist where we need to go. We need to get everybody at the table, have metrics and accountability. But that three-eighths cent of a tax is absolutely imperative to get this done.

Yepsen: Anybody else want to weigh in?

Boulton: I would. First I'd point out that I've taken action on this, not just talking points, but actually introduced legislation, had cosponsors including several of my democratic colleagues as well as our one independent in the Iowa Senate to actually get this done. Voters asked for it by over 60% of the vote. We need to do something that has a long-term, sustainable solution on water quality.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn.

Wilburn: Two other pieces to that. The sales tax would also, there are groups out there like the Burr Oak Land Trust, these land trusts that are waiting to match funds to try and recapture some of that. The second piece that I would add to that is environmental issues are not new to me. As Mayor I signed the 2007 U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement. We put real tangible pieces into place preserving a former sand quarry to make it a public amenity and conservation, recycling center and so you need to think more broad than just the tax, it's what you can leverage.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell?

Hubbell: Well, actually in 2009 and 2010 my wife and I were very much active in the Iowa Water and Land Legacy, which is a group that put together the whole natural outdoor resources trust fund that you're talking about. We actually worked on the actual legislation itself that ultimately went to the voters in 2010. And we have worked on it every year since. I've been meeting with legislators, republicans and democrats, every year since then. Do you know what they all say? We think the voters already approved it but we're just not going to, it's going to come back sometime, we're just not ready for it.

Yepsen: John Norris.

Norris: This is all good about funding three-eighths cents but we've got a bigger issue to deal with in agriculture and resulting in water quality is we have to change the culture and practice of farming in this state. We've been doing high input, high output, no profit agriculture for too long. We have to be the state that sets the vision for the change in agriculture in this country and quite frankly across the globe. I'm talking low input and low energy and low emissions agriculture and high profitability. That's what we've got to change.

Henderson: So then do you regulate farming?

Norris: No, we've got to -- we eliminated the funding for the Leopold Center which was the limited amount of public research we were doing to help farmers realize how to farm more profitably and sustainably. We have to change that culture to increase profitability for famers and they'll see the benefit rebuilding soil health and clean up our water supply.

Lynch: Whether you raise the three-eighth cents or hold corporate agriculture accountable or change the culture, how do you do it as Governor? Mr. Hubbell, how do you make that change happen?

Hubbell: There's a couple things we have to do. First of all, it's going to take a bipartisan vote and that means we need to bring Iowans into the picture, we need to get Iowans to recognize it's an Iowa problem, it's not an us, them or ag, urban. We all have to come together because what's going to happen is we've been investing in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is what is outlined in that Natural Outdoor Resources Trust Fund. what you do is you actually protect water quality and you preserve a top soil. We're losing five tons per acre top soil every year in this state. So just think how that's going to compound over the next 10, 20, 30 years. There's not going to be hardly any top soil. So this is very important that we invest in that sort of permanent, protected money that goes to preserve top soil and protect the water.

Henderson: Mr. Boulton, as you well know, when the Des Moines Water Works sued three Northwest Iowa counties about how they managed drainage issues in their area it offended a lot of farmers. How would you bridge this gap between rural Iowa and urban Iowa and resolve this issue in a bipartisan way?

Boulton: Well the reality is we're going to see more and more desperate measures as inaction continues on this core issue. And while Governor Reynolds said in her Condition of the State Address she was going to sign as her first bill a monumental water quality bill, what did we get? Not even a new bill, the leftovers from the last session that didn't survive because it didn't do enough, because it was expensive without actually unimpairing waterways or leading to monitoring or changing watersheds. And I think one of the things we can do is reframe this. Not only is this about water quality and land management, it's about economic opportunity. I'm very proud of the work my wife Andrea does as the trails director of a conservation non-profit. We can bring people to Iowa to enjoy our natural resources if they don't see toxic bacteria level signs at our public beaches.

Yepsen: We're almost at the midpoint of the debate and I want to move on to another segment in our questioning. And I'll start with you, Mr. Hubbell. I want to talk about some of the things that republicans are going to use against each one of you should you be the nominee.

Hubbell: I don't think I have anything to use, right?

Yepsen: Yeah but the point is this is a primary, it's about electability, let's get this out here on the table and talk about it. Mr. Hubbell, you're rich, you're from Des Moines, you've never run for office before. And you may be trying to buy this primary with your TV ads. Now how do you respond to those attacks that are going to come against you at least from republicans and maybe from some of these other democrats here?

Hubbell: Well my campaign from the very beginning has been focused on winning the general election because that's the only thing that really matters for democrats. We need to win the general election. So from the very beginning we have started to travel all across our state, I've been to all the counties, and I go out and sit down and meet people in their own turf, in their offices, on their farms, coffee shops, their houses, and listen and learn and share ideas. A man in Independence, Iowa told me that he hasn't seen any personal income growth in that community for five or six years. A woman in Oelwein told me that when she opens up the school books, because she's a teacher, pages fall out and sometimes they're missing 10 or 15 pages at a time. That's the stories you hear about what's going on in Iowa. So what I've done is I've listened to Iowans and I've recognized that they have three key issues. They want better education and they know that this republican Governor and legislature are just squeezing them. They want to have better health care whether it's supporting Planned Parenthood or doing something finally on mental health and reversing the privatization of Medicaid. Air and water quality. And they want incomes to go up. And this legislature and this Governor are not making progress in any of those. So when they find out that what I'm talking about is their issues and then I tell them what I've done in my life whether it's, what I said at the very beginning, actually getting results in the public and the private sector and spending a good part of my career fixing crises in our state as well as volunteering to support the progressive values and the quality of life that make this state a wonderful place.

Yepsen: James.

Lynch: Mr. Boulton, the knock on you is you're too young, you're too inexperienced and you're too tightly connected to labor unions. What is your defense?

Boulton: I love this airing of grievances part of the debate now. When we start talking about some of those things that you're mentioning as liabilities, I think Iowans are ready for a new generation of leadership. Iowans are tired of seeing this administration planning for the next 6 to 24 months and having no vision for Iowa for the next 6 to 24 years. I think in terms of our working families in this state I'm proud to have the support of the Iowa Federation of Labor and several labor unions that represent over 250,000 Iowa workers who want to see a better path forward. I'm proud of the work I've done for 12 years as a worker's rights attorney standing up for people who have been mistreated by their employers, who have been cast aside. I'm proud of the work that I've done in the Iowa Senate to promote an agenda that actually restores value to working families in this state. And I'm looking forward to doing that as Governor.

Henderson: Ms. Glasson, if you're the party's nominee in the general election, one could envision an ad from republicans where your face morphs into Bernie Sanders and they attack universal health care and your deep union roots. What would be your response to republicans on those tactics?

Glasson: Well, I've already been attacked by the RGA. They have a website against me and I'm proud of that because, you know what, they're saying universal single-payer, all Iowans having health care, union leader, union boss raising wages and improving working conditions for Iowa workers, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, outrageous. I'm proud of those and we need more --

Yepsen: Excuse me, are you too liberal to win a general election?

Glasson: No, no and you know why? Let me tell you why. I'm not too liberal because look at what just happened in the primaries across this country yesterday. Bold, progressive, women candidates winning. And that is what we need in Iowa is a vision moving us forward, not status quo politics and policies as usual and that's why our campaign is different because we're a people powered organization, not stuck on me as the candidate but focused on the issues that will improve the lives of over a million Iowans.

Lynch: Ms. McGuire, on your watch the Democratic Party had some caucus night bumps and in the November election suffered defeat at the polls. Should Iowans trust you to get this job done?

McGuire: When I go all over Iowa I'm proud of the county chairs and the activists that I see that we all worked our hearts out on that election. But when a national wave comes over the top of you and takes out Wisconsin and Pennsylvania you really have something that’s hard to control from the local. What I will tell you I hear though, I hear people who are upset with what has happened the last two years in the republican legislature and under the Branstad/Reynolds, now Reynolds administration. I hear about stripping collective bargaining from public service employees and from teachers. I hear about these women's rights that have really been taken away. I hear about worker's comp. I hear about this voter bill that really limits our voting. I hear about underfunding education, which is how all of us become successful. I hear a very unified voice out there. So I think I'm the one because of some of the deep issues, I'm uniquely qualified.

Yepsen: But I think James' question went to given the problems you had in the party why should democrats think that you can be the person to solve those problems?

McGuire: I'm not sure those were as local problems as they were a national problem. We did a lot of good in that party. We got 99 county chairs where there weren't. We have a lot of infrastructure that we did. And I think that will pay off in the long run. We were financially stable. So I think there's a lot of things we did well. And I will tell you, you can ask the other people, but I know where I was all the time we were trying to elect people in Iowa, I was working hard.

Henderson: Mr. Norris, you've been a mechanic, you've worked in the office and on the campaigns for people like Tom Vilsack, Tom Harkin, Leonard Boswell, Jessie Jackson, yet you have never won elected office and people have been a bit surprised given your connections that you haven't raised as much money for this primary campaign as you might have otherwise done. How will you reassure democrats that if you are the party's nominee that you will be an aggressive fundraiser and the best candidate to face off against a very well-funded Kim Reynolds?

Norris: Well, don't confuse primary fundraising prowess with general election fundraising prowess. In fact, Fred told me before either one of us got in that I couldn't run because he was going to have all the money. Honest story. In democratic primary politics, in democratic primary politics there are two big sources of money. It's Fred's social circle South of Grand in Des Moines that write $100,000 checks and it's labor money that was on board with Nate before he even got in the race and -- from Cathy. But all of those people have told me if you win this primary we'll be behind you 100% in the general. So I'm running this gauntlet right now with few resources but winning support with ideas and a vision for the future of Iowa, and wearing my car out while I'm at it, and that is what it's going to take to win the general election is who can bring everyone together in the end.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell, do you want to respond to that?


Hubbell: I would just say, as I said before, from the very beginning we started a campaign to win the general election. So we have actually been proven that we have support in every county and we had over 2,000 contributors in the December 31 filing and we have more since then. I don't think all of those live South of Grand in my district.

Lynch: Mr. Wilburn, you have been characterized as a university town liberal. How do you connect with rural and blue collar Iowa voters?

Wilburn: There's two parts to that. One, I would suggest if you talk to folks in Johnson County, Iowa City, where they call it the democratic socialist republic of Iowa, there will be people who say Ross was not progressive enough and then there was people who say he was too liberal. And we took strides to put things in place that progress has happened in the community. I think secondly just not only working at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and being out in Orange City and Sutherland or Maquoketa, all areas, I went to a, during nitrogen week I went to Sutherland on a cover crop workshop and what I hear from rural Iowans, they're concerned about water, they're concerned about making a living. They're concerned about living in their communities. That cuts across urban, rural, race, gender, gender identity, all of those areas. And so I would say having served on a city council, which is nonpartisan, but everyone knows who the democrats and republicans and socialists and greens are, but just the fact that I was able to become Mayor and get some things done in that city is a sign to the public I think.

Henderson: Candidates, let's talk some specifics about the health care issue. Ms. Glasson, legislators this past month set aside $1.3 billion to provide Medicaid coverage to about 600,000 Iowans. How would you pay to provide universal health care, which if you kind of do the math would be at least $6 billion if you cover every Iowan with universal health care?

Glasson: So, the important fact is that we've got to work on the plan and transition to it. It's not going to happen overnight, we know that. We do need to revert and transition after we have reversed privatized Medicaid. And what we do is when the price tag, we've got the plan and we're working on the price tag and I'm working with national organizations and policy makers that are looking at this in other states as well, so Iowa is not the only state considering this because the current system under the private insurance market is unsustainable and Iowans are feeling that in higher copays and premiums and out of pocket costs. So we pay for this in the concept of rolling back tax credits, unnecessary tax credits for wealthy corporations and that goes into the pot to cover Iowans' health care.

Henderson: How much is that?

Glasson: Well, if you total all the tax credits around about $400, $600 million a year, but some of those are good so we need a thorough investigation. As Governor I will call for a thorough investigation of all the tax credits and incentives we're giving and make sure that we weed out the ones that are not and proving that taxpayers aren't getting what they are paying for.

Henderson: Do you have to raise taxes to pay for it?

Glasson: No, I don't think so. And let me finish. So we draw down every federal dollar for Medicare and Medicaid because we know Donald Trump is willing to do that, we know that the federal government is willing to let states run their own plans and coverage. So, and then we actually take employers who currently cover most insurance of people in Iowa at work and have the employers pay into that pool as well, we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, that brings in more tax revenue to help fund universal single-payer health care. And then if we get the private insurance companies out of our health care, because we know that the only thing they care about is making a profit and not actually taking care of Iowans' health. And so we know that we can vastly reduce the cost of health care for Iowans over the private system that we're in now.

Lynch: I think it's fair to say that none of you like the privatized management of Medicaid. But the reason the state shifted away from that was because the cost was gobbling up the state budget. So where do we go from here? What's the solution to transitioning away from privatized management? How do we get there? And what is it going to cost for us? Let's start with you, Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: Well, the privatization of Medicaid has been an absolute failure. 40,000 Iowans are not getting --

Lynch: I think everyone up here agrees on that. Where do we go from here?

Hubbell: But the point is we don't know what it cost before, we don't know what it's costing now. They haven't even negotiated the contracts they were supposed to negotiate in January, they're not done. So nobody knows because they're not sharing that information. So it's hard to tell how expensive it is and where the money is going because they don't want people to know, there's no transparency. But what I want to do is bring it back under state management because state employees were costing us 4% to 5% before, now we're paying 12% to 15%. So that is not a good trade right there. And if you look around there are many, many states that have moved in this direction. There's no states that have gone to just a, hardly any that have gone to a pure MCO approach because Medicaid is not just one person is the same. There's a lot of different buckets in Medicaid, you can't treat them all the same. So what a lot of other states are doing is they're treating different people who are in the Medicaid system differently, a more customized approach. That allows you to actually save money. You give, rather than pushing people in the institutions, which are very expensive, you do more home based treatment. People who are less intensive in their needs you work on more prevention and help up front so they don't have as many health needs. But we're not doing that in our state.

Yepsen: Andy McGuire.

McGuire: Well, and you can see from that discussion this is very complicated and that’s why I think I'm uniquely qualified to fix this situation. So what you have to do right now, and I wish you didn't but this is unstable right now, we have patients who are at risk, so you have to bring this back into the state. As a doctor I took an oath to keep patients first, I'll always put people first. So we take patients first. We also aren't paying providers and a lot of these are small business owners, physical therapy, home health, our rural hospitals which 20 to 30 of our rural hospitals are at risk because of the nonpayment. So you have to make sure you bring it back into the state and you have to do that with the people on the ground so that you talk to people and say, how do we bring this back so we don't do what they did, which was four months they reversed the whole thing. We've got to be careful how we bring it back. And then once we bring it back in then you have to start saying how can we keep people healthier? How can we invest in their health? When I was with our company we doubled prenatal care, we doubled immunizations. It's that kind of preventive care that you invest in people's health. It helps them get out of the circle of poverty. It also long-term will steady that amount of money we spend that you're talking about.

Yepsen: I want to hear from some other candidates. Mr. Norris?

Norris: I really disagree with what Fred and Andy just said. It has been mismanaged. The misread they had on this was not recognizing low incomes in the state and an increasing elderly population. We're going to have a Medicaid issue until we start getting people off eligibility for Medicaid. Had we done what Branstad and Reynolds promised, raised incomes 25%, we'd have less people on Medicaid. We have a growing aged population and that is going to be an issue that has to deal with obviously Medicaid but increasing our direct care workforce. So the misread on this was thinking they could save money by enabling insurance companies to make a big profit off the Medicaid pool money as opposed to looking to invest in education and mental health care and raising wages in the state and getting people off of Medicaid in general.

Yepsen: Mr. Boulton.

Boulton: This administration skipped some pretty key steps, involving providers in the discussion, involving the disability community. We've seen the most harsh effects of privatized, out of state, managed care organizations dictating to Iowans what care they can and cannot get and denying and delaying claims. The reality is we have to make sure that those with the most severe medical needs, long-term disabilities, are taken care of. And 5, I offered legislation that would have immediately stripped out those most severe needs. And then we have to get back to the legislation I cosponsored for a six month transition, get us back to square one with fee for service and then figure out the long-term solutions by actually bringing people together, not a go it alone solution hoping it works out in the end.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn.

Wilburn: The bottom line is we're going to pay for health care one way or the other. We can do it the preventative way or we can do it the reactive way and allow for-profits to make money off of it. As democrats we know we believe in individual responsibility, that we have a collective obligation to each other. Let's be Iowa and reverse this privatization of Medicaid.

Henderson: Ms. McGuire, another health issue, medical marijuana. Doctors are reluctant to recommend it as treatment because under the federal law it's still a controlled substance. How do you resolve that without action at the federal level?

McGuire: Well, I think you have to do something with the state to make it more like a regular drug. And I think you can do that with the state, it's hard to know what the federal government is going to do, especially with the present leadership, but in the state you can treat this like any other drug and you should never take anything out of that pipeline because tomorrow there could be another use for that drug. And that's why we have the rule of pharmacy so that once a drug is approved and it comes in you could say that it's going to be treated like any other drug, then doctors and patients can make those decisions. So that is how it ought to be treated.

Henderson: Mr. Wilburn, college town man, there are people who say if you allow medical marijuana for any condition that that is essentially recreational marijuana. Is that something that you are concerned about? Or do you think that more conditions should be allowed to seek medical marijuana as treatment?

Wilburn: I think more conditions should be allowed. I think that is an overreaction for folks saying that it's a direct line to recreational use. There are people who are hurting now. My mother died of cancer in 1985 when I was 20. She could have certainly benefited from medical marijuana. My father died of Alzheimer's. I remember the nurses saying in this case they didn't know why the doctor wasn't providing an opioid because he was hurting for the last two weeks. He is someone who could have benefited. Reduce the schedule. Let's put this in place to take care of Iowans now.

Yepsen: Cathy Glasson.

Glasson: Medical cannabis actually is used to treat opioid addiction. So evidence is showing that it is actually beneficial in keeping off as a gateway drug. So just to be clear. We need to look at the evidence here. Medical cannabis has been very effective in treating lots of ailments, very serious ones, even depression and severe seizure disorders, those sort of really hard medical conditions.

Henderson: So does the legislature decide which conditions it should cover? Or should a professional board decide that?

Glasson: I think we need the professional, the medical professionals should be helping address it but we need to make it more accessible, which it isn't right now. And so the state of Iowa should actually work a little bit harder. I know it was passed on a bipartisan effort. I think we need to expand it. Make it more readily available to folks because they are suffering now. And in some instances the medical conditions are so severe what we're offering Iowans right now is not strong enough to actually help them with their condition.

Henderson: Mr. Hubbell, five dispensaries will be around the state to allow access to the drug later this year, actually very late this year in December. Is that enough?

Hubbell: No it's not enough. If we're really committed to quality affordable health care for all Iowans, which we should be and it's certainly a big part of my campaign, the science is clear that there are a lot more forms of medical illnesses and medical issues that medical marijuana can actually be very beneficial for, much broader than what we allow in our state. Other states have gone a lot broader than we have. So we should not only increase that with the advice of the medical community but we should also allow more kinds of marijuana itself. There's a lot of different levels of THC that can be used. We have one of the lowest. And it has been proven that different kinds of THC are better or worse with different kinds of illnesses. So we need to expand on both sides.

Henderson: Mr. Norris?

Norris: This is a case where the Governor is not leading when she needs to. People are suffering in this state. She is spending all of her political capital on tax cuts for millionaires. As Governor I would spend some political capital on educating Iowans about how this helps people. Let's get over this paranoia with the recreational drug and get this fixed for people who need it.

Henderson: Mr. Boulton.

Boulton: Yeah, I've sponsored legislation to expand the use of medical cannabis. And the reality is we're not going to get more providers coming into our state to invest in a medical cannabis solution if we don't have more accessibility. We're not going to get people that are going to come here to only be able to offer to a small number of Iowans. What we should do, the legislature should be involved, but it should be to express the authorized medical professionals to make the decisions that they need to make.

Yepsen: Andy McGuire, you had something you wanted to add.

McGuire: This shouldn't be a discussion we're having with the governors. That's the problem here. This should be a discussion that doctors looking at scientific medical literature ought to be making those decisions. This is the problem. You don't want to have the legislature, you don't want to have the Governor involved in this, you want to have it done by physicians with their patients. And to your point of abuse, I understand that, but we have a lot of drugs that are abused and we don't stop having them. Let's look at the abuse rather than looking at why we wouldn't use it for good purposes.

Yepsen: I need to move on to another question. James.

Lynch: There have been several references to the fetal heartbeat bill that the legislature passed and the Governor signed into law recently. A couple of strategies in dealing with that. One, the legislature should repeal it. Two, let the courts decide. Who is for repeal? Who is for letting the courts decide? How many want to repeal it? Everybody wants to repeal it.


Lynch: It's likely that the courts will put it on hold while it's in the court. Why not just let the court decide? Mr. Boulton.

Boulton: Well, I pointed this out at 1:30 in the morning when we were debating this bill, which by the way, bad legislation is made after midnight. When we start talking about the faults of this legislation, I was there asking hard questions of the floor manager of the bill and he kept telling me, well I don't know the consequence of that, I don't know the consequence of that. We can't be having legislation come through, get signed by the Governor, without fully understanding exactly what it means. And in this case it meant threatening a woman's right to choose, making Iowa the most extreme anti-choice state in the nation and actually threatening to worsen our crisis in this state of not having enough OBGYN care providers for Iowa women.

Lynch: Andy McGuire, this is probably going to end up in the courts regardless of what the legislature does so why not just let the courts handle it?

McGuire: Because it's wrong. This was the wrong law. This is hurting women. I appreciate that the courts will probably find this unconstitutional but it was the wrong thing to do for women, it sends the wrong signal and it can hurt women. This won't decrease abortions, this will hurt women and it gets between a woman and her doctor on a very important issue.

Wilburn: Those points are absolutely right. And regardless of your feelings about abortion, ending up in litigation and the tax dollars that will go towards that, I understand there is a firm out of Chicago that is volunteering to defend this, but now we've got out of state folks that are going to jump in and follow the money on that.

Yepsen: Fred Hubbell.

Hubbell: Yeah, I think what it comes down to, do we want Iowa to be known in the national news as a state that defunded Planned Parenthood and has the most extreme anti-women's health care law in the country? Or do we want Iowa to be known as a state that has an excellent health care system, including mental health? That's what we should be aspiring for. This bill sends all the wrong messages. The sooner we can get rid of it the better.

Yepsen: John Norris.

Norris: Let's say the $1, $2, $3 million is going to defending this, get rid of it and put that money into Planned Parenthood.

Yepsen: Cathy Glasson.

Glasson: I just want to respond to something one of my opponents just said, who speaks out about standing up against fighting this bad fetal heartbeat bill, when there has actually been money given to candidates in the state legislature that actually voted for this bill. I want to be clear that if you're up here talking about women's reproductive health and safe, legal abortions you better be walking the walk and not talking the talk. And so this is a terrible bill. It is unconstitutional. The problem with it going through the courts is that it's going to challenge Roe V. Wade on the national level and what is what the hope is.

Yepsen: Who are you talking about?

Glasson: I'm challenging Mr. Hubbell who has contributed to campaigns at state legislature that actually voted for the fetal heartbeat bill.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: She is talking about Peter Cownie, who is a state legislator.

Glasson: That's right.

Hubbell: Charlotte and I have known the Cownie's for over 30 years, ever since Peter Cownie was a young boy. It's a very close, strong family relationship. So when we had an opportunity to support Peter of course we did. Did I like his vote? No. Did I like the vote of anybody else who voted for it? No. If I had been Governor would I have vetoed it? Yes. But I don't look at everything in a strictly partisan lens. When you have a close family relationship those are important. And, by the way, if we're going to win this election or we're going to get anything accomplished when one of us is Governor we're going to have to reach out ot the Trump voters and all the voters all across this state because we're going to need them to help us win the election and we're going to need them to govern.


Yepsen: I want to change subjects and I want to move to - Mr. Wilburn I'll start with you. This involves the use of the governorship as a moral leader to deal with problems. How will you address say sexual harassment, anti-gay biases in our state, anti-immigrant rhetoric that we've heard in this state? How would you use the moral bully pulpit of the governorship to deal with those problems?

Wilburn: By starting with Iowa's history. Iowans welcomed folks from Southeast Asia here in the state, now their children, in the 1970s. Their children, their grandchildren, they are contributing parts of this state. There are all types of first -- at the college towns -- of first African-Americans, first women, first Latino, etcetera, in professions around the state. So in terms of sexual harassment I would make sure that staff know and the state knows that the freedom to not be sexually harassed is a civil right, it's not just a question of morality, it's a civil right. There is a process in place, investigation and penalties for those who are violators as well as an educational piece. I did it when I was diversity officer for the Iowa City Community School District, I conducted those investigations, I made sure there was education and put that out there. So in terms of the LGBTQ plus community, the Governor actually going to the Youth Summit, the Youth Leadership Summit and those type of symbolic things that can be put in place but also there's executive orders that can be done. We can, in some ways it's symbolic, but Iowa is an English only, it's governmental documents, but that sends a negative message and that's not what we want to do here in Iowa.

Yepsen: I'd like everyone to weigh in quickly. Andy McGuire.

McGuire: Well I've felt the sting of sexual harassment and what Kim Reynolds did when this is a culture that has been going on and there has been very little significant changes. You have to stand up and say this will not be tolerated anywhere. It will not only not be tolerated, it won't be tolerated if you saw it and didn't do anything to help that person. And it's not just women. This is anyone who is devalued. That's what we're doing right now and it takes somebody at the top to say I value everybody, I value their work and I want them to be productive. The other thing we talk about a lot with LGBTQ that I think you could do as the Governor is you could support that we ban conversion therapy. That is something that is really a black mark on our state and we should do that. And with the immigration, we need people who don't necessarily look like I look. We need an Iowa of more people like that. They're just trying to do exactly what we all want to do is raise their families and work hard and be good citizens. We need to welcome them instead of this really we're closed for business sign that is up for immigration right now.

Yepsen: Senator Boulton.

Boulton: I'm someone who, as a worker's rights attorney, has represented victims of sexual harassment, discrimination based on gender in the workplace. And I think what we ought to be doing as state government is leading by the right example, not the negative example. I have cosponsored legislation that would make sure that it's not just taxpayers who are accountable for --

Yepsen: Is there anything you would do with the governorship itself as a moral leader?

Boulton: One of those things is making sure we actually have equal pay for equal work in state government. We have far too much of a wage disparity for women in state government. We're not going to eliminate sexual harassment and discrimination if women aren't treated as equals in the workplace from the beginning.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: Well it starts with leadership and it starts with demonstrating that leadership. If you look at my campaign, the people who are working on my campaign, we have by far the most diverse campaign team out there, very diverse and they all do excellent work. So what would I do as Governor? The same thing. If you want to send the right message you've got to lead by example. So the people that are going to work for me when I'm Governor are going to be a complete diverse mix of people representing all of the different folks across our state because that's what you need to do. If you don't hire those people, don't put them in leadership positions, then nobody else will realize that they can move up, that they have opportunities.

Yepsen: Mr. Norris.

Norris: I'm proud when I was Governor Vilsack's Chief of Staff that nearly all the women on my staff are supporting me in this campaign. So that gives me just a great deal of pride because they respect how I treated them. You want to fix this problem, put women in charge.


Yepsen: Cathy Glasson.

Glasson: You're talking about multiple issues so I'll try to be succinct here. As far as the Governor Reynolds handling of the sexual harassment misconduct, she failed to deal with this, it has been mismanaged from the start and that is clear from her entire administration is really fraught with sexual harassment and misconduct. We need a leader that when they say zero tolerance they mean zero tolerance and that means our swift investigation by a third, independent, outside party to address it. I don't believe the state of Iowa should be monitoring itself when it comes to extremely important issues like this. And we do need more women in leadership whether it's in business or government that have the guts to stand up and do what the right thing to do is. And we have to thank the Me Too movement. I'm a woman in a mostly male dominate labor movement in the state of Iowa so I understand that there are brave women that stuck their necks out here and have raised this level of awareness so that we can actually address it appropriately. And it does speak to our minorities and LGBTQ plus communities where we need to make sure that their civil liberties are protected because right now they're not with this sort of administration and our President.

Lynch: The United States Supreme Court recently opened the door for sports betting, legalized sports betting with its decision. First, anyone opposed to the state of Iowa offering legalized sports betting?

Glasson: I want to --

Lynch: Okay, Ms. Glasson, what's your opposition?

Glasson: I'm not opposed, I just want to look at it. I want to understand a little bit more. I want to see what the actual legislation might look like. I'd consider it but I'd want to make sure that any revenue generated from it we actually set aside for public education.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn.

Wilburn: What's that?

Henderson: Are you outright opposed to it?

Wilburn: I'm not outright opposed to it, no.

Henderson: Is anybody outright opposed to it?

Hubbell: I need more information.

Yepsen: Let's let everybody -- Ross Wilburn. We'll go right down the line and we'll talk about sports betting.

Wilburn: I think as with anything you have to be careful on how it is implemented. That is I think part of the concern that you hear up here. But with the lottery board putting some things in place like making sure that there is for any gamblers anonymous, those types of things. But there is sports betting that is going on in the state right now, there's Internet, so it's going on right now so I think we need to put some controls on it in some ways similar to medical marijuana, regulate it and legislate it, that type of thing.

Yepsen: Andy McGuire.

McGuire: I think you have to make sure you don't have any unintended consequences and I think that's what you're hearing up here. And you have to make sure that the revenues, that the state gets some revenues from this so that we can handle some of the priorities we've been talking about tonight. And then you have to make sure there's community betterment like there is now with the casinos.

Yepsen: Mr. Boulton.

Boulton: So I've taught sport law at Simpson College for years and this is something that is not a new issue to me. As we look at what could happen with our state we want to make sure, yes, I think we ought to support sports gambling but we want to make sure we preserve the integrity of our student athletes. Our athletes at Iowa, Iowa State, Drake and UNI in particular that could be victimized if we don't do everything possible to keep integrity in sports and our college athletes.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: I think this is like a lot of issues that it might be a nice idea but we really need to study it first and see what the bill does. We need to protect minors. Who's going to get the revenue? How are you going to divide the revenue up? What are you going to do for the college athletes that Nate is referring to? Because if we're going to let betters make money on it you know the leagues are going to make more money. The only one left out is the student athletes.

Yepsen: John Norris.

Norris: The reason I want more information is I'm skeptical about gambling. It's a poor people's tax. It leads to bankruptcy, it leads to broken families. So I've got to be convinced that this can be managed appropriately and actually will reduce that. If there is enough under the table gambling going on that is happening anywhere then maybe we legalize it, but the first approach is be skeptical because gambling in general hurts our low income Iowans worse.

Henderson: Looking for a succinct answer, we haven't much time left. So I'll start with you, Mr. Norris. What is Kim Reynolds' Achilles heel?


Henderson: Succinct, please.

Norris: Total mismanagement of government.

Henderson: Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: Lack of leadership.

Boulton: It is leadership. We went through a whole legislative session waiting for action from her, we didn't see her lead and we were even wondering what she was going to sign at the end of session. So it's leadership.

Henderson: You were in doubt that she would sign some of those pieces?

Boulton: That was the question, a lot of people said was this too extreme for her, because she didn't step up and actually engage herself in the legislative process. There should be no doubt with a bill of that magnitude as to what the Governor's position is.

Henderson: Ms. McGuire.

McGuire: What I hear from Iowans is they think she doesn't care, that she's not a leader who cares about every Iowan's success, that she is only really concerned with a small portion of Iowa being successful. And I think that is her Achilles heel.

Henderson: Mr. Wilburn.

Wilburn: Leadership and the courage to act against her funders.

(crowd grumbles)

Glasson: Untrustworthy. You can't trust anything she says. She puts window dressing on everything that has been passed this legislative session. There is no money to fund anything that she said. That is what Iowans need to understand about Kim Reynolds.

Lynch: This year during the legislative session, despite very high profile shootings, we didn't see a lot of action on any gun related legislation. Let's start with you, Mr. Boulton. What gun restrictions would you support and sign into law if the legislature sent it to you?

Boulton: So I would pose some of the egregious things that have happened recently in the legislature, expanding the use of deadly force to include mistakes. It was a mistake. It's going to put aggressors at a position of advantage in terms of gun violence in our streets. I'm someone who brought the Chief of Police from Pleasant Hill, the Chief of Police from Des Moines, the two communities that I represent, to the legislature. When we're talking about gun violence in our communities we have to bring law enforcement into the discussion. And so when we start talking about things that we could do, we have to look at two of the most harmful things that were done recently and repealing those changes. We also want to make sure we have background checks. We want to make sure that we're addressing problems while also making sure that we're preserving the rights of all the gun-owning households that we have across Iowa that do it the right way and responsibly.

McGuire: I think it's a public health issue. I've been in ER's where we see the effect of gun violence. But I also would tell you if I was on an acreage I'd want a shotgun. But that's not the rights we're talking about, we're talking about the rights to be able to go to a movie or to go to a concert and not be hurt. So what I would do is look at common sense gun laws, which I think we haven't done enough of. We do have some of these laws that we've done, we've gone the opposite direction of what I would do. I would come over and do more background checks and common sense gun laws that would make sure that we're not having this public health emergency.

Yepsen: John Norris, you have talked a great deal in this campaign about the need for democrats to reach out to rural Iowans. How do you be strongly anti-gun and still attract votes from rural Iowans?

Norris: Be sensible about it. Listen, Kim Reynolds, the Department of Human Services proposed a rule that would require daycare providers when the parents drop their children off in the morning that they have to notify them if there are guns in the home and they were secured. What parent wouldn't be entitled to know about or expect to know that and Governor Reynolds struck that rule. That's what people want is common sense.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn.

Wilburn: As someone who has served in the military and knows how to fire a lot of these weapons of war and that is what they are, it is sensible gun ownership and it shouldn't be easier to get a weapon of war than it is to get your driver's license. So a lot of members of the NRA know about the background checks and loopholes, we can do those, we can put that in place.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: Well, it's a very personal issue for me. I have eight county sheriffs that are supporting my campaign because they know I'm a strong believer in public safety. But they also know that I've actually had automatic weapons pointed at me and pointed at my wife. So I've seen what those weapons can do. I've seen somebody get shot dead no farther away than some of these people are.

Yepsen: You're talking about when you were held hostage.

Hubbell: Yes. So I've seen up close what these weapons can do and what people can do when they have these kinds of weapons. And when our Governor says that we have reasonable laws and that we don't need to talk about it because it's a federal issue she's wrong on both counts. We don't have reasonable laws and the last two years we've seen a lot of new laws introduced in our state, mostly by out of state interests trying to protect gun owners at the expense of public safety. When you see it up close you realize how serious public safety is and this Governor doesn't understand that.

Yepsen: Cathy Glasson.

Glasson: We have folks pontificating about how they are on common sense gun reform although I'm the only democratic candidate that came out in November of last year talking about common sense gun reform. And I'm the first democratic gubernatorial candidate that received the candidate of distinction from Moms Demand Action. Leaders lead on issues. I was clear and am clear about my position on gun violence. As a nurse I've seen it. Every 39 hours in this state an Iowan is killed by a firearm. Full ban on assault rifles. We need a 72 hour waiting period, comprehensive and thorough background checks on every gun sale in Iowa because there is no radical notion that when a parent sends their child to school that they will come home at the end of the day.

Yepsen: I want to switch to kind of a closing round of questions here. We've asked our questions. What did we leave out? What did we miss? Let's let everybody have a minute to say -- John Norris, what has been overlooked by the reporters here?

Norris: We definitely didn't get enough into mental health. I think we have all recognized you can't travel this state and not realize what a failure our mental health system is and how many, every community is impacted by it and every family. It's impacting our workforce, it's limiting our businesses and manufacturers to be able to grow because they need workers desperately and as long as our economic development strategies lure out of state -- tax cuts, it's not sustainable because we're not able to invest in education and mental health care to make sure we're breaking that cycle of poverty for families in this state and get people on the right track. And we have really failed to address that most critical issue tonight.

Yepsen: Mr. Hubbell, what have we overlooked?

Hubbell: Well, absolutely mental health is the biggest issue in our state, that combined with substance abuse. You hear about it in every place you meet somebody so that's a big issue. But there's another one, that's rural Iowa. What are we going to do to help rural Iowa? Because everything this Governor is doing from the fiscal mismanagement to the misguided priorities, underfunding this, this and this, is just squeezing the life out of rural Iowa bit by bit by bit. And it's very deliberate. She doesn't admit it but it's very deliberate. So we need a Governor who is going to step up and defend rural Iowa, who is going to go to work for rural Iowa and who is going to invest in rural Iowa and is going to go out and take producers and growers and agricultural workers from across our state to Canada and to Mexico and to Latin America and start to develop our own direct relationships with these countries rather than waiting to see what somebody in D.C. does. We need a leader who is going to stand up and work for rural Iowa as well as work for mental health.

Yepsen: Nate Boulton.

Boulton: I think those are two good points, rural Iowa, economic development has been horribly lacking from this administration. Mental health is an embarrassment. This is an administration that shut down two of our state's four mental health facilities and did nothing to replace the lost services. And I was proud to take that case all the way to the Supreme Court where I argued against it and then introduced legislation that would have reopened those facilities. But also I think we're missing out on education. We've gone eight years underfunding our schools, we have told our teachers they're not going to see wage increases that keep up with inflation, they'll have less and less of a voice in health insurance. How do we recruit the next generation of qualified teachers into our classrooms, into our rural Iowa classrooms, when they know that their wages their first year will be the best wages they will get because they won't keep up with the cost of living?

Yepsen: Andy McGuire, what have we overlooked here?

McGuire: Well, I think they're right on mental health. I'm the only one with a comprehensive mental health plan on my website,, that honestly knows what we need to do to start to attack this crisis. I think there is other good ideas about education, respecting our public teachers and making sure they have the resources they need. One subject we haven't talked about at all is climate change and I think it's something that is really we have to address. We had a climate action committee that we used to have under democratic control, we then disbanded it, we didn't, republicans disbanded it. I think we should put it back in so that we can get greenhouse gases reduced by 80% by the year 2050.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn, what has been overlooked?

Wilburn: We didn't talk enough about supporting the elderly in Iowa. Now, many of these issues, health care, the environment, impacts them but rural homelessness, service to support for seniors, we didn't get enough into that and we need to do a better job educating them on how all of these issues support and touch them.

Yepsen: Cathy Glasson.

Glasson: We touched on health care but I still don't know where my opponents stand on actually making sure that Iowans have affordable, quality health care. I don't know what that means. I'm still proud to be the only candidate talking about universal, single-payer health care that is very clear in what I'm saying. So I'm still very confused about how we're going to do that. My plan will cover mental health services as well as reproductive health services. So as far as I'm concerned we've talked about mental health care in the state of Iowa. What we didn't touch on is higher education, public education and climate change because we know we have such a mountain of student debt out there as well.

Yepsen: We've got just a few minutes left and six candidates. So very quickly, Cathy Glasson, and we'll talk through -- what is the most important thing you want democrats to remember about you as they head into the polls?

Glasson: That being in the middle central candidate and policies will not win for democrats. We have lost 11 out of the last 14 governor's races in this state by staying safe in the middle and not looking forward and looking back and what we've done. We need to actually stand up and fight against status quo establishment politics. And Iowans want that and they want leaders that are willing to be forward thinking and they deserve more than what they're getting under the current system with the priorities, the way the party is addressing issues.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn, what should democrats remember about you as they go to the polls?

Wilburn: In addition to all of the experiences that I have, I want you to just kind of reposition and think about funding. We've had well-funded democrats that have lost in this state and as was said before earlier by John, that in the end democrats will come together to put forth our candidate. So I think experience matters, I think our ideas matter, that the person matters so I ask you to consider that.

Yepsen: Real quickly, Andy McGuire.

McGuire: I think this about my seven kids and one grandchild, your kids and grandchildren, it's about the future of Iowa, it's about making sure our kids and grandkids can stay here and be successful, that they have good affordable access to health care, that they have good education, world class education, that they have good paying jobs with good benefits and good clean water and air.

Yepsen: Senator Boulton.

Boulton: That I didn't wait for Terry Branstad to go off to China before standing up to this administration. And while I've been proud of the things that I've done to stand up to this administration, we're not going to win in 2018 if we don't start talking about what our vision forward for the future are. We create the Iowa that we want for the future today and that's why I'm running for Governor.

Yepsen: Fred Hubbell, what did we forget or what do you want democrats to remember as they go into the polls?

Hubbell: Well, I've never run for office before, I've never been a politician so I don't have any special interests, none. What I want to do is try to unify people in this state because, as I said earlier, we're going to need to bring people together to win the election and to get anything done as we're going to be governing. So I want to find that common ground and get results for people and I think I've demonstrated I know how to do that in a lot of different sectors. You've got to put people first. If you don't have special interests you can put people first. You don't have to worry about some vote or some group that supports you because you can put the people first and do what is right for people which means education and health care and infrastructure investments all across our state. Now I'm going to go back to the tax issue a little bit because I described many different ways that we can actually save money in this state to put into those categories. That should be done first. We can all talk about reversing this tax cut that they came up with but there are some good things in there and we should address the existing problems before we take a look at how to deal with that tax cut.

Yepsen: John Norris, same question to you.

Norris: I think we need to throw away and start over.

Henderson: I'm sorry, what did you say?

Norris: I disagree with Fred. I think we ought to throw that tax cut away and start over.

Yepsen: What do you want democrats to remember about you?

Norris: Absolutely and I appreciate my colleagues here mentioning rural Iowa but I want them to know that I'm unapologetically passionate about rural Iowa. We cannot afford to sustain human and fiscal infrastructure of this entire state just with the Des Moines, Ames, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids corridor. And if we're going to win this governor's race, and this isn't just about winning the governor’s race for me, I'm in this for the long haul, to lead this state and empower progressive legislators to get elected as well because it's going to take years to undo the damage they have done. And my commitment is to be the Governor that changes the conversation in this state, wins back those rural votes and enables legislators across this state to get elected so we can make those changes.

Henderson: The people who will vote on June 5th will be voting under a new system requiring voter verification. Raise your hand if you would repeal that law that was passed by a republican legislature.


Henderson: What is wrong with showing an ID to vote, Mr. Norris?

Norris: I'm sorry?

Henderson: What is wrong with showing an ID to vote?

Yepsen: We've got less than a minute.

Norris: Showing what?

Henderson: An ID to vote.

Norris: It intimidates people. We should be inviting people to vote.

Henderson: Mr. Hubbell.

Hubbell: There are a lot of people who don't own a car so they don't have a driver's license. They don't travel so they don't have a passport. They may have changed their address so what they're sending out to the mail may never show up there.

Henderson: Mr. Boulton.

Boulton: Disproportionate impact on elderly, minorities and people that have already a hard enough time getting access to the ballot.

McGuire: It's addressing a problem that doesn't exist. There wasn't fraud to begin with, why we did this, this was just to limit voting and we should make voting for everyone possible.

Yepsen: Ross Wilburn.

Wilburn: You know what, Jim Crow law isn't Iowa. Let's be Iowa.


Yepsen: Very quickly.

Glasson: Clearly voter suppression and intimidates certain groups of Iowa voters so they cannot express their small d democracy.

Yepsen: And we are out of time. Thank you all for being here tonight.


Yepsen: And I want to also thank you for joining us for our Iowa Press Debate for the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. Stay tuned to political coverage on Iowa Press every week at our regular times, Friday night at 7:30 and Sundays at Noon on statewide Iowa PBS or any time at For our entire hardworking crew here at the Maytag Auditorium in Johnston, I'm David Yepsen. Thanks for joining us tonight.

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