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Narcisse jumps into governor’s race

BY QUENTIN MISIAG | JULY 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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The newest challenger into Iowa’s highly contested gubernatorial race says his campaign will need to raise upwards of $500,000 in order to compete with two other political front-runners with 97 days until the November election.

Even with the noticeable absence of a campaign manager, Jonathan Narcisse told The Daily Iowan on Tuesday he is vying for the state’s chief-executive position as an independent at a time when the state’s top Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates have lost touch with everyday Iowans.

“We need a vision for the state,” said Narcisse, 51. “We need, I believe, leadership that will put the interest of the state above cronies.”

A personal friendship with his opponents — five-term Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch — should not stand in the way of improving the state’s population base and education system, he said.

The Des Moines resident, who previously ran for governor in 2010, served as a Des Moines School Board member from 2007 to 2009. He garnered fewer than 2 percent of the votes in his previous race for Terrace Hill.

The necessary paperwork for Narcisse was submitted and accepted, an official from the Iowa Secretary of State Office confirmed.

Iowans are witnessing what Narcisse called a “reverse Robin Hood,” so ending poverty in the state stands as the most apparent need.

“It does not make sense where men have the wealth of nations that children go to bed hungry,” he said.

In addition, he would introduce a statewide program aimed at maintaining the state’s residents. In exchange for 40 hours of community service each summer, students would have an all-expense paid college education to the three regent institutions and a handful of private colleges such as Grinnell College and Simpson College.

Those same students would be asked to pay back their college expenses if they leave the state.

Narcisse said Branstad and Hatch’s practice of allocating large amounts of funding to lure out-of-state companies to Iowa such as Facebook and Google, would be cut under his administration.

A campaign official for Hatch and his running mate, Monica Vernon, when reached said the two have no comment on the new rival.

Despite the new entrant, Tommy Schultz, the press secretary for the Branstad-Reynolds campaign, said campaign operatives will continue business as usual.

“Plain and simple, our focus remains the same: visit all 99 counties, like the governor and lieutenant governor have done every year … “This is only the beginning for their vision for building a brighter future for Iowa.”

Following the lead of many of the state’s political figures, Narcisse will embark on a full, 99-county sweep across Iowa, beginning with a radio-show appearance on  Aug. 4 in Fort Dodge.

Whether Narcisse serve as a wedge of distraction between Branstad’s and Hatch’s voter-turnout efforts, as former presidential candidate Ralph Nader did in the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, remains to be seen.

Dennis Goldford, a politics and international-relations professor at Drake University, said he expects both Branstad and Hatch will attempt to ignore their new challenger.

Hatch’s campaign will be more concerned about Narcisse than Branstad’s if the race becomes close, he said.

“Any Tom, Dick, and Harry can run for office,” Goldford said, noting that Narcisse’s efforts could take a dive if sponsored debates such as an Aug. 14 debate at the Iowa State Fair with Branstad and Hatch headlining don’t include him.

For his second attempt at the gubernatorial seat, Narcisse said recent political turmoil that has sent some campaigns reeling improve his chances.

“Eric Cantor losing proved that every once in a while, power doesn’t get its way,” he said.


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