Norris v. Hubbell



Sen. Nate Boulton’s political demise for being exposed as an oaf and groper blew Fred Hubbell into Storm Lake last Sunday with a wind at his back. Hubbell leads the Democratic gubernatorial field of six (Boulton suspended his campaign) at about 31% as of last week, according to the Iowa Poll. Boulton was second. To avoid a nominating convention, Hubbell needs to win at least 35% of the June 5 Democratic primary vote. That should not be too tall a task.

Labor will remain divided between Cathy Glasson of the Service Employees Union, and John Norris, who is everybody’s second pick in this crowded race and has carried labor’s lunch bucket for generations. And then there is Dr. Andy McGuire vying for the women’s vote against Glasson, so you can see how Boulton’s votes can spread to Norris, McGuire and Glasson while giving Hubbell just what he needs to secure the nomination at the primary.

This is the final week of the primary campaign, effectively. Hubbell came to Storm Lake to deliver his introduction: that he is a progressive businessman who can fix budget problems; and his closing argument: Democrats cannot afford a fractious convention, so they should rally around him since he has almost all the money.

It all makes good sense. Except we still want to make our case for Norris, who best understands rural issues, framed himself as the rural candidate, and opened his campaign in Storm Lake (having driven here in blizzards since). In the case of Norris v. Hubbell, we would say that the introduction is compelling but not inspiring — that Hubbell can fix Medicaid problems will not necessarily deliver Democrats to the polls in November. Some old-time religion will, and that’s what Red Oak native Norris offers.

He is talking about sustainable agriculture when nobody else is. He is decrying the poverty of Iowa’s rural counties. He, too, understands Medicaid’s problems and how it afflicts the elderly and health care providers alike. Norris campaigns for the living wage, rails against the chokehold of chemical companies on our agriculture, and will restore labor rights by executive order if need be. That fires up the base to vote against Kim Reynolds and for something beyond better management.

To the closing argument: It highlights the problem with Hubbell. He is a dedicated progressive. He has given in time and plenty of treasure. He also is a child of corporate America. The reason he has all the money is because he has all the money. To suggest that we should not have a convention is to say that he is right, and that labor and rural populists just don’t understand. His ear cannot hear the tone that will not play well in Hinton. Norris can talk guns in Hawarden. His brother is a sharp-shooter. Their dad went broke during the Farm Crisis. Rural people ­— and rural people swing Iowa elections, not Des Moines — hear that as true. Norris staked his claim in Greenfield as a young man with a restaurant. Small business owners can relate to his frustrations.

Kim Reynolds will paint herself as the country girl from Madison County near St. Charles who learned with the best of the best, Terry Branstad from Lake Mills, and from our collective white-picket-fence childhood. She will have more resources than Hubbell or Norris or any Democrat could lust for. Resources are not what solely matter in the end. It has to be about the heart of Iowa and what that means. That is how you speak to voters against the vast noise machine that his slowly eroding this state from within.

She will portray Hubbell is a poor little rich boy who put every grown man digging a ditch into that ditch. She will turn everything upside down on him. The lifelong progressive will become the ogre of the little man. That’s why a convention won’t hurt the Democratic Party. It will make Hubbell earn the nomination with the activists. Because from the account Sunday, he hasn’t earned it yet. Fred Hubbell can become that nominee but he needs to catch the heart of the 61% of Democrats who are not yet that fired up about him. We like him, but we love John Norris. Democrats should not be fooled into voting for what is predetermined, as Republicans used to do. They should vote for the person who can unite and drive progressive values again. That person is John Norris.

Once more for Paschen

Again, this is why we support John Paschen for Congress: He is sober. He is serious. He is sincere. He is honest and forthright. He is a little bit cheap — Dutch, if you will, in the best sense. He is everything that Steve King is not, and he is willing to say so with a righteousness that wears well on a humble man. Paschen believes that King wins because people perceive him as telling hard truths, even if they are half-baked lies. Drug running Mexican mules and all that. Paschen dwells on hard truths, and he tells the truth, such as: climate change is the most important issue facing agriculture, indeed the planet, and we had better be about changing our ways quickly. And that everyone has a right to health care, and if you leave it to King there won’t be a hospital in Pocahontas. He took his campaign with the Podunk Rebellion arguing for basic rural rights in the tiniest of burgs like Rembrandt, wearing that frumpy wool hat in the sleet. He is a doctor. He deals in facts and reality. He wants to restore decency to our politics. That is Paschen’s main message, and it’s why he deserves everyone’s support.