A former Des Moines School Board member who publishes weekly newspapers announced this morning that he intends to challenge Governor Chet Culver in this June’s primary election. 

Jonathan Narcisse, a Democrat from Des Moines, supported Culver in 2006. “After he got elected, he didn’t follow through,” Narcisse says, “and I will never say a bad thing about this person, but he just hasn’t been an effective governor.” 

Narcisse faults Culver on a variety of fronts, especially for failing to enact significant improvements in Iowa schools.  Narcisse seems to fault Culver for his weight as well.  Narcisse, who has lost between 60 and 70 pounds in the past year and is no longer taking medication to manage his diabetes, calls himself a role model for a state struggling with an obesity problem.

“Iowa has an obesity crisis.  Our children are too obese.  Our elderly people are unhealthy.  Our families are unhealthy,” Narcisse says. “And one of the priorities of the next governor has to be to lead by example.” 

Narcisse says Culver shouldn’t have gone to Iraq this weekend either. “Instead of being Iraq right now, he ought to be in Iowa today, meeting with the legislature, saying ‘I’m not going to let you out of session until we actually have real solutions for the crises that face Iowa,'” Narcisse says. 

Narcissse dismisses the trip as a mere “photo op” — an opportunity for the governor to have his picture taken with troops. “We have some very grave issues facing Iowa beyond texting and the governor ought to be here leading those issues and not looking for photo opportunities for his political campaign,” Narcisse says. “But tragically this has been the leadership style of Governor Culver.”

Narcisse spoke for about half an hour to a small group of reporters, photographers, family members and supporters to formally kick off his campaign.  He discussed a wide range of issues, calling for lowering the state sales tax to three percent by 2014 while imposing the sales tax on more services.  Narcisse is also opposed to tax breaks for corn-based ethanol.  

 “There’s switchgrass-based ethanol, prairie grass-based ethanol which makes environmental and economic sense,” Narcisse says. “And then there’s grain-based ethanol which basically is a welfare program for certain interests.”

Narcisse has hired a campaign manager who used to be a financial planner and has set a goal of raising between four and five million dollars for his campaign.  Narcisse also vows to run as an independent on November’s ballot if he fails to win the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination.  Narcisse owns the Iowa Bystander, a weekly newspaper based in Des Moines, as well as the Communicator and the state’s first Spanish-language newspaper.

Listen to Narcisse’s announcement by clicking on the following link: Narcisse