Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell met for an often combative debate in Sioux City tonight. The hour-long forum featured strict time limits for the candidates’ answers to moderator’s questions, but about halfway through the two veered off topic in this sharp exchange.
“You know, Fred, he promises everybody everything. I’m not sure how he’s going to fund it. We have a limited budget. We have to live within our means and just telling everybody that asks that you’re going to give them more money isn’t the answer,” Reynolds said.
Hubbell replied: “I’m promising to stop throwing money out the window with those wasteful corporate tax giveaways every year. That’s over $100 million that the governor is just throwing out the window and getting very little value back. That’s a lot of money that we could use.”
Hubbell, a Des Moines businessman, is seeking elected office for the first time.
“I want to be much more fiscally responsible and go through every line item in that budget,” Hubbell said. “We shouldn’t raise taxes until we can prove to the taxpayer we’re spending their money wisely.”
Reynolds has been governor for the past 16 months and is seeking election to a full, four-year term.
“Our budget is balanced and we have $127 million surplus,” she said. “Our cash reserves are full.”
Hubbell suggested Iowans are looking for more stability in the state budget.
“We’ve had a budget that’s like a yoyo,” Hubbell said. “A few years ago, the governor had a $900 million surplus…She borrowed $195 million from the reserve funds. She’s had two years in a row of massive budget cuts in the middle of the year and now she’s got a surplus she cannot explain.”
Reynolds stressed the status of the Iowa economy.
“Unemployment is at 2.5 percent, Fred. We’re seeing our economy grow and we’re seeing wages increase,” Reynolds said. “The last three quarters we’ve seen wage growth.”
A few minutes later, Reynolds criticized Hubbell for allowing businesses he’s been associated with accept state tax credits.
“The hypocrisy that’s coming from Fred Hubbell is ridiculous,” she said. “He has been taking advantage of these tax credits for four decades…and when he wasn’t taking advantage of them, he was handing them out, taxpayer dollars, to companies that he was personally invested in and he didn’t recuse himself.”
That’s a reference to Hubbell’s service on the Iowa Power Fund board that gave Pioneer DuPont a grant for an ethanol plant.
“I followed all the rules of state disclosure,” Hubbell said. “I followed all the rules of our state ethics committee, properly disclosed, and I did everything according to the rules, just like the governor claims she did when she took all those airplane flights from companies she gave money to and people who contributed to her campaign.”
That’s a reference to Reynolds accepting rides on private planes owned by campaign contributors and a state contractor.
The two re-litigated their ongoing disagreement over the move to privatize the state’s Medicaid program.
Both used the word “extreme” to describe their opponent’s views on abortion.
“I am proud to be pro-life. I have said I would never stop fighting on behalf of the unborn,” Reynolds said. ” …What Iowans don’t agree with is Fred’s position where taxpayer dollars go to fund late-term abortions, abortion-on-demand and partial birth abortions.”
Hubbell responded. “I am an unabashed supporter of Roe v Wade and I have been for a long time, but at the same time I don’t support those other procedures that the governor’s talking about and she knows that. She’s just willing to say almost anything to try to get elected, even though they’re misleading statements.”
The candidates, in response to a moderator’s question, also quarreled about allegations of a toxic work environment in state government.
“It was going on, as we know now, while the governor was a state senator,” Hubbell said. “It’s been going on the whole time she’s been lieutenant governor and governor…and it hasn’t gotten any better.”
Reynolds shot back, citing her immediate firing of Iowa Finance Authority director Dave Jamison 24 hours after two agency employees complained they were being sexually harassed by Jamison. Reynolds then faulted Hubbell for failing to get state Senator Nate Boulton to resign. Boulton dropped out of the Democratic Primary for governor after women accused Boulton of touching them inappropriately in social settings before he was elected to the state senate.
“I’m not going to be lectured by a guy about sexual harassment,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t see you doing anything…Dave Jamison is gone and Nate Boulton is still serving as a state senator. Lack of action.”
The debate was sponsored and broadcast by KTIV in Sioux City, KWWL in Mason City and KTTC in Rochester, Minnesota. The two candidates are scheduled to debate a third and final time on live TV this Sunday morning, starting at 8 a.m.