Iowa Department of Economic Development director Michael Blouin has submitted his resignation in order to launch a campaign for governor. Blouin held a news conference late this (Wednesday) morning. “I’ve just finished filing papers with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board for the purposes of exploring a bid for governor,” Blouin says. “It’s my desire to enter into a dialogue with Iowans over the next several months about our collective future and about how I might contribute to that future.” Blouin is one of a handfull of Democrats who are making moves to run for governor. “The dialogue I want to enter into with Iowans will hopefully point to the next role I might be able to play in helping Iowa become an even better place to live out our dreams,” Blouin says. Blouin, who is 59, has worked in the private sector as an elementary school teacher and lead chambers of commerce in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Blouin was elected to the Iowa Legislature then to Congress, representing northeast Iowa. “No matter what our faith traditions are, all of us are called to make this place a little better for those who share this space with us and for those who are yet to come,” Blouin says. “Throughout my life I’ve had the opportunity and the privilege to contribute in different ways to that call — as an educator, as a lawmaker, as a community action advocate, as a community and economic developer, I’ve had the privilege of contributing toward a better future for people from all walks of life.” In 2003, Blouin returned to the public sector after being head of the Des Moines Area Chamber of Commerce, expressing some regret about the pay cut he took to become the director of the state’s economic development plans. The governor’s salary wouldn’t be a jump in income for Blouin, but today Blouin said he’s beyond thinking about that. “Well, some would say I took a sanity test and flunked it,” Blouin says about running for governor. “More realistically, there’s an opportunity for me to contribute to the future of this state. It’s got nothing to do with compensation.”
Blouin expects his opponents to use his past against him. “At 59 years of age, as an individual who started in elective office when he was 22, I’ve probably been on both sides of every issue that there is out there,” Blouin says. “If people spend some time looking at themselves, they’ll realize they’ve changed as life goes on, too. If you haven’t, you’re kind of dead.” Sources say Governor Tom Vilsack urged Blouin to run. Vilsack has publicly said he will not endorse a Democrat until after next year’s primary. Blouin calls Vilsack a “very good friend,” and Blouin submitted his resignation to Vilsack late Tuesday. It’s effective at the close of business Friday, and Blouin says he’ll start raising campaign cash at six o’clock Friday night. “I intend to spent a lot of time on the telephone and in small group meetings as well as anyplace Democrats gather over these next several months to gradually build an organization that has some staying power,” Blouin says. “But we start from zero and have a lot of catching up to do.” Democrat Secretary of State Chet Culver, another Democrat, has already raised over half a million dollars for a gubernatorial campaign.
State Representative Ed Fallon, a Democrat from Des Moines has announced his candidacy, as has Sioux City businessman Sal Muhammad. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and State Ag Secretary Patty Judge, both Democrats, are also thinking about a run for governor. On the Republican side, there are two announced candidates for governor — Congressman Jim Nussle of Manchester and Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaatz.