Candidates prepare for Governor’s race

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad speaks at the Iowa Newspaper Association Convention on Feb. 6 in Des Moines.

Varad Diwate

Gov. Terry Branstad will face Tom Hoefling in the GOP primary and Sen. Jack Hatch as his Democratic opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial race Nov. 4.

The Iowa Secretary of State announced that Hoefling and Branstad would be on the GOP primary ballot in June while Jack Hatch would be the only Democratic candidate. All the candidates had to gather a minimum number of signatures from 10 counties to be on the party ballot.

Jonathan Narcisse, who failed to get his name on the Democratic primary ballot said he’ll contest the Iowa Secretary of State’s decision.

On completing his sixth-term, Branstad would be the longest-serving governor in the United States. According to Iowa Poll by the Des Moines Register, Branstad was leading with a 63 percent job-approval rating.

“He has been a very successful governor,” said David Andersen, assistant professor of political science. “He has been somewhat lucky that the economy is doing very well. Iowa really doesn’t have any major problems right now.”

Branstad’s agenda includes an emphasis on the economy, increasing private investment in the state and his project for military veterans: Home Base Iowa. The Branstad-Reynolds reelection campaign has been highlighting the budget surplus of the state and a low unemployment rate.

“They are focusing on Home Base Iowa which is their initiative to make Iowa an attractive place to live and retire for veterans,” said Tommy Schultz, spokesman for Branstad’s and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign. “Part of that is job creation, by partnering with businesses to hire veterans. They have set a goal of hiring 200,000 veterans.”

The Branstad-Reynolds campaign announced $4.1 million cash-on-hand in January and collected signatures from all 99 counties.

“We gave him a balanced budget to begin with. This state was not in any financial mess when he came here,” said Jack Hatch in an interview with the Daily. “That’s a huge myth.”

Hatch, a legislator from Des Moines has served in the Iowa Senate from 2003 and has previously been House representative and State Director with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin. Hatch said he’ll focus on lowering college debt, economic growth with small businesses and implementing better healthcare and mental services.

Hatch said Branstad lacks a vision for the state and made mistakes by cutting taxes on businesses for a few jobs and having voluntary water standards in the state.

“He has set such low expectations this year that even the Democrats agreed with his agenda. I think people are wanting more,” Hatch said.

Hatch has previously has also been a real estate developer.

“The first challenge [for Hatch] is that he has to just introduce himself to the people of Iowa. He has to increase his name recognition,” Andersen said. “Then, he has the very difficult task of convincing people that there’s a reason to replace Branstad.”

Hoefling from Lohrville has challenged Branstad for a series of five debates leading up to the June 3 primary.

“The word election means choice. When I saw that no one was challenging governor for the primary, we stepped up to give [the people] one,” said Hoefling.

Hoefling said he disagrees with Branstad’s policies on accepting Common Core standards and economic development. Hoefling’s plan includes getting rid of the state income tax like some other states and opposing subsidies. He said his plan of implementing local control is attracting supporters across the political spectrum.

Hoefling said he is running on a grassroots movement. “We got to this point with no money. [People] are tired of money-driven politics,” he said.

The candidates plan to visit all 99 counties during their campaign.