Nate Boulton hosts meet and greet with Ames voters

Chris Anderson

Iowa State Senator and Democratic candidate for governor, Nate Boulton, had a meet and greet with voters at Café Diem in Ames on Sunday afternoon.

Boulton, who kicked off his campaign Thursday with a video and a formal announcement in his hometown of Columbus Junction, is basing his campaign on a message of fighting back against a Republican dominated state government and advocating for Iowa’s workers’ rights.

At only 36 years old, the same age as Terry Branstad the first time he was elected to governor,  Boulton is running an energetic campaign and drawing attention from across the state. After kicking off his campaign, he has been traveling across Iowa to meet with voters.

Boulton was only recently elected to the State Senate in 2016, but does not see his lack of experience as a deterrence. He recently told the Des Moines Register, “It’s not like I was just born and went to the Legislature.”

Boulton is a labor rights attorney, with experience fighting against the Republican establishment in Des Moines. Boulton cites the lawsuits he has filed and won against the Branstad-Reynolds administration protecting worker’s rights.

After Republican efforts to curtail public workers’ collective bargaining rights, Boulton has become the face of democratic resistance to these efforts. Although measures to curtail these rights were eventually put into law, Boulton says he was proud to lead the resistance.

State Sen. Herman Quirmbach, who represents Ames, was present at Café Diem to endorse Boulton’s candidacy for governor.

“When they[Republicans] wanted to deny them[public workers] to have a seat at the table, to negotiate a fair wage, to have the basic dignity they deserve as workers, Nate Boulton stood up and led the fight,” Quirmbach said.

Quirmbach spoke of how he was proud to have Boulton has a friend and that they fought “shoulder to shoulder” against republican legislation.

Boulton spoke to Ames voters about his working family roots, and how he pursued a law degree to stand up for working Iowans.

He also spoke of when the Branstad administration put through a restriction on funds used to assist unemployed and underemployed Iowans, and how he filed a lawsuit against it and won.

“Now we know they can be defeated, and we are going to continue that fight,” Boulton said.

As a labor rights attorney, Boulton is making standing up for Iowa workers a large part of his campaign. He told Iowa voters he would like to see the measures curtailing collective bargaining rights for public employees undone.

“We told the people that answer that call of public service they are second class citizens, that they deserve fewer rights. That is not the right way,” Boulton said.

He also condemned Republican legislators for measures that lowered the minimum wage in some Iowa counties, and taking away reproductive healthcare access from women.

“They did all these things based on ideological party lines, not on enhancing the quality of lives of Iowans in our state,” Boulton said.

Although he had little good things to say about the state of Iowa politics, Boulton ended his speech on a positive note.

“We’ve got to do more than talk about things we’re against, we’ve got to talk about the things we can do to actually realize Iowa’s potential again,” Boulton said.

Boulton said he envisioned a future where Iowa is a world leader in education again. He feels that if we invest in education, industry will invest in Iowa because of its educated workforce.

He also would like to see a future in which Iowa’s communities are strengthened and its natural resources and drinking water cleaned up.

“We have to start planning for the next 20 years, not the next 20 months, when it comes to economic development in Iowa,” Boulton said.

As a politician with a reputation of fighting against the current status quo, Boulton ended with “We are in a fight for the soul of our state,” and urged voters to embrace his vision of the future.

Among members of the Ames community to hear Boulton was Iowa State student Sarah Ashby, a political science major and mental health activist.

Ashby came out to ask Boulton what he would do to improve the state of mental healthcare in Iowa. She shared the fact that Iowa is ranked in the bottom five states when it comes to mental healthcare.

“I asked how he would go about improving services not only for the state but university services,” Ashby said.

Ashby feels that mental health has not been a priority when it comes to state budgets in recent years. She also is worried about student suicides she has seen while attending Iowa State.

Ashby was impressed by Boulton’s response to the question and is planning on supporting him on his run for governor.

“I thought it was perfect, I think what the University needs to do is prioritize mental health when it comes to budgeting and that’s exactly what he said,” Ashby said.

Nate Boulton is entering an already growing field of Democratic challengers for the governorship, and will face a primary election. Other democratic candidates include Rich Leopold, director of the Polk County Conservation Board; Andy McGuire, former IDP chairwoman; and Jon Niederbach, a former member of the Des Moines School Board.

There are currently no declared Republican candidates for the 2018 election, but soon to be Lieutenany Governor Kim Reynolds, soon to be acting governor, is expected to run for reelection.