The six Democrats who’re running for governor made personal pitches last (Friday) night to about two-hundred Polk County Democrats gathered on the state fairgrounds.
Tom Henderson, chairman of the Polk County Democratic Party, says Democrats in and around Des Moines account for about 15 percent of the Democrats who’ll vote in the June, 2006 gubernatorial primary.
“And I think that this turn-out indicates there’s a lot of interest in the gubernatorial election,” Henderson says. “I don’t think very many people have made up their mind yet.”
Each of the candidates claimed to be offering the most “progressive” ideas. Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge stressed her promise to “protect” a woman’s right to choose an abortion. “Women are not second class citizens and decisions regarding our medical care are just that, our decisions to be made privately,” Judge said. “We do not need the watchful eye of the government controlling the bodies of half of the population.”
State Representative Ed Fallon of Des Moines claimed a “100 percent pro-choice voting record.” Fallon also said Democrats will be progressive by seeking the common good. “This campaign is about moving the Democratic Party away from the corporate influences that have come to control it and back to our historic roots and the successes that have been built on social justice and economic fairness,” Fallon said.
Shenandoah Mayor Gregg Connell, the most recent entrant in the race, proposes an aggressive state government investment in wind energy. “I say that the wind that blows across Iowa belongs to everybody in Iowa,” Connell said. He would take 16 percent of the gambling taxes paid to the state and use it as collateral to borrow enough to build a one-billion dollar wind farm in northern Iowa that would be owned by the state. Connell predicts the wind farm would product 100-million dollars a year in revenue for the state, and could provide enough electricity, yearly, for one-point-two-million homes. “It’s a bold statement,” Connell said.
Secretary of State Chet Culver promised to carry on the “progressive values” his father, John Culver, advanced during his years in the U.S. Senate.
“This will be a battle in 2006,” Culver said. “This is the only seat in the country where a Democratic governor is not running again, so this will be a fight.”
Michael Blouin resigned from his job as Iowa Department of Economic Development director this past July to run for governor. Blouin told the crowd being “progressive” meant expanding, not ending, the Iowa Values Fund created by Governor Vilsack which has handed out millions in grants to businesses. “We shouldn’t have to live on the edge while companies like Lennox teeter on a decision to leave us. We shouldn’t live on the edge while companies like Maytag decide to sell off and leave our state. We shouldn’t have to fight those kinds of battles toothless…We’ve begun all of that under the Vilsack/Pederson years,” Blouin said. “I want to continue that.”
Sal Mohammad of Sioux City said he was the most progressive candidate in the race because he is a “student” of Iowa native Henry Wallace, the seed corn pioneer who was Franklyn Roosevelt’s vice president, then ran for president himself. “Above all (Henry Wallace) was about real progressive reform,” Mohammad said.