In the running

Gubernatorial hopeful Iowa Sen. Jack Hatch told Webster County residents Wednesday it was possible to defeat Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.

“We’ve already beaten him, several times,” said Hatch, D-Des Moines. “There’s a long history.”

Hatch, speaking at Olde Boston’s Restaurant and Pub, said he challenged companies in Des Moines that were polluting local resources. Specifically, he said, cancer-causing toxic chemicals that had seeped into the land and water.

“Terry Branstad’s EPA was doing nothing, and for three years Terry Branstad did nothing,” Hatch said. “When I got elected, I said you can’t this. You don’t wreak havoc on the environment, on resources we depend on. And in Iowa, no one’s above the law, but clearly there was a company that was pouring chemicals on our land and no one identified the company. So we launched an investigation.”

Hatch authored the Leakage Underground Storage Tank Act in 1989 and later co-sponsored legislation creating the Resource Enhancement and Protection program.

Another defeat, Hatch said, was with expansion of health care benefits, specifically Medicaid.

“Terry Branstad metaphorically stood in the hallways and doorways of every hospital in the state, every doctor’s office and every health clinic, and said, no, we’re not going to expand Medicaid,” Hatch said. “He agreed with his 25 governors that they would sue the United States government to prevent health care from going forward, and lost. He supported a candidate for president who was going to repeal health care, and he lost. And when he said to us we’re not going to do Medicaid because we can’t afford it, he presented his own plan which left out 100,000 Iowans.”

According to Hatch, Branstad is “not the same governor we had before.”

“Maybe he’s being pulled by the right wing. Maybe he’s being pulled by forces, an ideology that he feels he has to listen to. But in reality, I don’t think that’s what the state of Iowa really wants to listen to,” Hatch said. “We’ve heard over and over again, we want change.”

Hatch said Branstad has emphasized creating low-wage jobs. The key to a thriving Iowa economy, Hatch said, was creating middle class jobs.

“The first thing we’re going to do is, I’m going to ask the Legislature to raise the minimum wage,” he said. “We’re going to talk about increasing our economic leverage by building the economy from the community up.”

Hatch proposed cutting property taxes for seniors who own homes, especially for seniors with mixed incomes.

“The state will backfill those losses so the cities don’t lose any money,” Hatch said. “And we’re going to allow more seniors to stay in their homes. And that’s what we’re for, isn’t it? That’s what government is for, especially for those of us who are getting older.”

To help businesses and communities, Hatch promised to create economic development councils across the state.

“It’s similar to, you might have a economic development corporation here. Usually it’s a bunch of businesses in the Chamber of Commerce trying to find some money and build certain projects. We want to do that all over the state,” Hatch said. “We want you to do it partnering with maybe other communities. We want you to be able to tell us what you want for your community. We want you to develop the jobs.”

Hatch said, as governor, he would not do everything.

“I won’t do everything. I need a lot of partners,” he said. “The Legislature will be one partner. The Democrats and Republicans will be partners. Businesses will be partners. We’re going to reach out to everybody.”