Iowa senator announces campaign for governor


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A Des Moines businessman and Iowa senator announced on Monday that he would seek the Democratic nomination for governor.

Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, has served in the Iowa Legislature for 22 years and has long been a real-estate developer in the Des Moines area. Hatch’s Monday announcement put an end to his exploratory committee he announced earlier this year.

“Simply put, there’s too much at stake for Iowa,” Hatch said. “We have a governor who has a limited agenda and a restrictive governing style that does not allow us to have an open conversation.”

Hatch said he had many ideas about how to improve Iowa for the sake of its citizens, including working with local agencies in mental-health, police, and fire departments to improve efficiency.

Hatch said in some parts of Iowa,[ these agencies have structural issues but that Gov. Terry Branstad has only punished them by cutting funding.

Hatch also believes Iowans need to be presented with a new solution to reduce college-student debt besides a tuition freeze because it does not provide a permanent solution.

University of Iowa Associate Professor of political science Timothy Hagle said Hatch and the other hopefuls will have a hard time persuading Iowans that the state needs a change in leadership in the 2014 election.

“With a fairly good economic scene in Iowa, it’s going to be much more difficult for either Hatch or [Tyler] Olson to make a strong case for making a change.”

As of July Iowa’s unemployment is at 4.8 percent, which is down from 6.4 percent when Branstad took office. Iowa’s unemployment rate is also about 3 percent lower than the national average.

Sen. Joe Bolkom, D-Iowa City, said he disagrees with Hagle’s analysis and emphasized Iowa’s need for a change. He said Branstad’s method of creating jobs is bringing in out of state corporations and giving them tax credits, and he argues is not good for the local economy.

“The governor’s approach is a tired approach of the 1980s,” he said. “We need a change to address real job creation and income growth for Iowans. It’s all about trying to be the longest serving governor in the country [for Branstad] at this point.”

Hagle also said the Democratic candidates may have a hard time going up against Branstad when his name is so well known throughout the state.

“Right now the two main candidates for the nomination for the Democrats are both state senators, so neither one of them would have great statewide name recognition,” he said.

Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, said he think’s Hatch will make a suitable opponent for Branstad because he will provide a stark contrast between the two parties.  

“I think Sen. Hatch’s philosophy is the government can and should do everything — should fix every problem, should dictate and mandate its way to government success as opposed to individual success — which is certainly not Governor Branstad’s philosophy,” he said.

Jimmy Centers, the communication director for Branstad’s campaign, said Branstad’s policies have brought Iowa prosperity.

“Liberal Des Moines politician Sen. Jack Hatch is running for governor to take Iowa back to the tired, old policies from the Culver administration that led to massive budget deficits, skyrocketing unemployment, and the infamous I-JOBS debt program,” he said in an email statement.

Branstad has an exploratory committee put together and has not yet confirmed that he will run again, but Hagle said it is highly likely he will announce his official campaign after the first of the year.

Despite his critics, Hatch said Iowa needs a change and that he is ready to bring it.

“[Branstad] wants the status quo,” he said. “People want change. They want to start believing in the opportunities. If we can get them to believe that there are opportunities for Iowans change is not a bad thing.”

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