The six Democrats who are running for governor met in their first televised debate tonight and criticized the way Republican Governor Kim Reynolds is managing state government and the policies she has pursued.
All six Democrats oppose the law Reynolds signed that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around the sixth week of pregnancy.
“The signal that the governor and this legislature is sending about Iowa right now, that we’re willing to take away that personal decision away from women is just wrong,” said John Norris, a former state and federal utility regulator who also served as chief of staff to Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack.
Fred Hubbell, a retired Des Moines businessman, promised the issue would be a top priority if he’s elected.
“Make sure that everybody gets quality, affordable health care and that includes restoring the funding to Planned Parenthood and coming back with laws that respect a woman’s right to choose,” Hubbell said.
Nate Boulton, a state senator, stressed his vote against “defunding” Planned Parenthood, the 2017 state law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and this year’s fetal heartbeat legislation.
“It was about attacking Iowans for their political stances, attacking Roe v Wade,” Boulton said.
Cathy Glasson, a nurse and union organizer from Coralville, predicted the law will be tied up in court and that it will be a “total waste of tax dollars.”
“The attack on women and our bodies absolutely has to stop in this state,” Glasson said.
Andy McGuire, a medical doctor who served as the Iowa Democratic Party’s chairwoman during the 2016 election cycle, warned of other consequences.
“I can tell you this won’t stop abortion,” said McGuire. “It will just make it unsafe.”
Reynolds told a group of supporters on Saturday night that the political fight on this new law is worth having.
Tonight, the Democratic candidates for governor also criticized Reynolds for signing a law that will withhold state support from cities and counties where local law enforcement fails to assist federal immigration agents. Hubbell suggested the law is “a charade.”
“All they’re trying to do…is divert attention from the very poor fiscal management that they’re doing for our state and try to divide people,” Hubbell said.
Norris suggested Iowa should, instead, take steps to welcome new immigrants.
“The growth we’re having in rural population,” Norris said. “Our need for workforce is going to be met, partially, by new immigrants.”
Ross Wilburn, a former Iowa City mayor, linked Reynolds’ stand on immigration with President Trump.
“President 45 has tapped into fear and hate,” Wilburn said, “and pointed and said: ‘Those people are criminals. They’re responsible for your troubles.'”
During the 90-minute forum, the Democrats began by addressing the mental health system reforms Reynolds signed into law. Glasson called the changes symbolic.
“Merely lip service and window dressing,” Glasson said.
Each vowed to get rid of the private companies managing the Medicaid program. The Democrats also faulted Reynolds for the way she handled allegations the Iowa Finance Authority’s director was sexually harassing female staff.
“This was a moment for Kim Reynolds to step up and show leadership and she wilted,” Norris said.
The forum was hosted by The Quad City Times and broadcast by KWQC TV. The moderator announced at the start that the candidates had agreed “not to directly address” one another. The candidates will meet on Wednesday evening for a 90 minute “Iowa Press” debate on Iowa Public Television.