Governor Terry Branstad went to Fort Madison today to meet with local backers of a huge new fertilizer plant that’s gotten federal and state incentives to build near the small town of Wever. Branstad got applause from the crowd when he criticized Senate Democrats who’ve questioned why nearly half a billion dollars in state and federal tax incentives have been pledged to the project.

“I’m here to make it clear that the chief executive of this state is on your side and we will fight for these jobs and I want to make it clear that when we make a promise to Lee County — or to any county in Iowa for that matter — it’s a promise we’re going to keep, no matter what they might say in Des Moines in any committee meeting,” Branstad said.

Branstad accused Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, of trying to “bully” the governor’s economic development chief during a February 27th committee meeting. Branstad’s voice rose as he defended the project.

“We’re going what’s right and what’s good for Lee County and for Iowa and it’s time to quit this politics,”Branstad said. “Iowans deserve better.”

In addition, Branstad accused Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, of siding against his own constituents.

“For Senator Taylor to join the critics opposing the construction of this plant rather than supporting new jobs in Lee County is politics of the worst kind,” Branstad said. “He needs to quit following Senator Bolkcom and, instead, needs to start listening to the constituents in this county that need these jobs desperately.”

Egyptian-based Orascom Construction Industries plans to build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant near Wever.

(Reporting in Fort Madison by Brian Crozier of KBUR Radio.)