A fine opposition



Gov. Kim Reynolds and former Gov. Terry Branstad with the legislature have made a mess of this state. Our finances are in shambles. We are giving away the farm to Apple and Facebook and Google for computer server farms. We are writing checks to bribe foreign fertilizer companies to locate here. We are paying Prestage Pork more than $200 million so we can crowd more hogs into Iowa. We are trampling on public employees and closing state parks and not overseeing livestock confinements. We are pulling state troopers off the road, and we are crimping local police departments by giving tax breaks to commercial and apartment property owners.

Fortunately, there is an election next year and the opposition has fielded an all-star roster of candidates for governor. On Tuesday, we were glad to meet Fred Hubbell of Des Moines, one of the wealthiest men in Iowa, a former CEO of Equitable of Iowa and Younkers, a sophisticated businessman who has lived in Holland and New York and chooses Iowa as home. He could be off in the Riviera if he chose, but instead he chose to sit with us for an hour as we fired unflattering questions at him. He didn’t answer every question as we would like, but we found him to be tough and honest, a bit shy of his knowledge of rural issues but willing to listen and learn. Fred Hubbell can call Warren Buffett and make things happen for Iowa. He can bring Harry Stine together in a room with sustainable ag people. In any other year we would do cartwheels to have a governor of that caliber serving our state.

But consider his opposition:

John Norris is a former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, appointed by President Obama. Nobody knows more about the politics and economics of renewable energy than Norris. He was chief of staff to Tom Vilsack as governor and as secretary of agriculture. He is a native of Red Oak, like Joni Ernst. He ran a restaurant in Greenfield, so he knows about hard work and meager returns. Norris understands rural Iowa and how to make government work for average people. He helped see to it that Storm Lake was dredged and that it received $9 million from the Vision Iowa program. We have known him for over 30 years and we have great affection for his populist spirit. We are loyal dogs.

Andy McGuire proves that the state could use a doctor in the house. The Waterloo native (married to a Holstein McGuire, Dr. Dan) saved a choking person’s life last weekend at the Polk County Steak Fry. McGuire is a physician, an insurance company founder, a Buena Vista County agland owner and a mother who raised a brood of children while holding down a job. You want to talk pro-life? She saves lives. You want to talk about affordable health care and mental health issues? Listen to the doctor. We have known the McGuires forever. We are loyal dogs and hate to choose between Norris and McGuire.

Nate Boulton is a young labor lawyer who knows what working people are up against. He has been endorsed by most major trade unions, is a state legislator and was the most prominent critic of the legislature ripping apartment public employee rights last session. He has fire in the belly, but his youth does not allow him the breadth of experience and knowledge of the first three. But maybe Boulton offers all of us a fresh start and new perspective on Iowa politics.

And yet there are more smart people running for governor who haven’t found Storm Lake yet.

Any one of them would be a more effective leader than Reynolds. She has a primary challenger in Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, a nice guy who offers much of the same old that Branstad/Reynolds did or does. He is doing a creditable job in Cedar Rapids — a wonderful city that is hard to screw up — and probably will stay there.

Hubbell has been around the world doing business. Norris has been around the world doing agriculture and renewable energy. McGuire is an entrepreneur and physician with rural roots. Boulton is a sharp young lawyer with a command of state issues.

Independents should take care to follow their primary. That’s where the ideas are for the future. They’re the ones who actually want to do something about water quality. Norris is talking about using wind turbine property tax revenue to leverage big investments in dying rural towns. McGuire wants to talk about getting every Iowan access to affordable and comprehensive health care. Hubbell served three decades on the board of Simpson College. He understands Buena Vista’s challenges, and would not allow the likes of Bruce Rastetter to destroy our private colleges and diminish our public universities from his falcon’s nest with the Board of Regents.

We’re for all of them or any of them.

Our hearts are with McGuire and Norris. Hubbell and Boulton appeal to the head of a person who realizes we cannot afford another four years of Terry Branstad Lite. We like and respect Branstad and are glad he is in China and that Donald Trump is not. But Iowa has had enough of that program: schools that can’t keep pace, filthy lakes where children can’t play, increasing residential property taxes, trampling on the rights of street workers and teachers, and not giving a damn about whether Pocahontas or Sac City will survive.

Give them a look. It will give you some hope for 2018.