The two leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates are engaged in a quest to paint the other as a friend of the meatpacking industry. Today’s installment saw Chet Culver’s campaign enlist the services of Dick Dearden, a state senator from Des Moines, to accuse rival Mike Blouin of trying to lure a meatpacking plant to the east side of Des Moines when Blouin was head of the local chamber of commerce.
“Despite any denials (Blouin) offers now, I remember asking him if he thought they were so great, why didn’t he push it to put it in Johnston or Urbandale?” Dearden said as he read from a written statement. Dearden told reporters during a telephone conference call that had no intention of getting involved in the race until he saw a campaign ad Blouin’s running which says Culver had been a paid lobbyist for I-B-P.
“I believe it’s hypocritical for Blouin to make these attacks when he was pushing anti-farmer and anti-worker Excel meatpacking to come to Des Moines to slaughter one million animals a year,” Dearden said. “Mike Blouin was standing up for big business then and he’s trying to dodge his record now.”
The Blouin campaign says Blouin “never advocated for the plant” and merely showed up at meetings with Excel because he was asked to do so by former Des Moines Mayor Arthur Davis, who passed away a few years ago. Dearden says that’s not true. “Mayor (Preston) Daniels was mayor at that time. It was just five years ago. It wasn’t Mayor Davis,” Dearden said. “They don’t have their facts straight on that.”
Two state legislators who are backing Blouin say they were in the meetings with Excel and dispute Dearden’s account. State Senator Matt McCoy of Des Moines and State Representative Jeri Huser of Altoona back Blouin’s account. They both endorsed Blouin earlier this year. Dearden said he had not endorsed Culver before today (Thursday) because he is “really upset” with the negative commercial Blouin has been running. “I don’t know that endorsements by legislators make any difference anyway, but…I just want to say right now that I am endorsing him,” Dearden said.
In other campaign news, Ed Fallon – another Democrat running for governor — was endorsed this (Thursday) afternoon by the Iowa Sierra Club. In a prepared statement, Fallon said he shares “the Sierra Club’s concerns for protecting Iowa’s unique natural environments, our soil and our water.”