For the past two months I have spoken with voters across Iowa about the issues they want a new Governor to address and the problems that Iowans need to mutually solve. Even with the disastrous policies enacted by Branstad-Reynolds-GOP in this year’s legislative session, these conversations have deepened my faith that there is a reservoir of strength and hope that Iowa can return to a mission that builds a sense of a community that cares for all citizens under progressive leadership.
This conversation began when leaders of the 2016 Bernie Sanders caucus campaign asked me to consider becoming a candidate for Governor of Iowa. The confidence they showed in me was humbling, as I gained a deeper sense of what the 50% of Iowa Democrats who caucused for Sanders are looking for in a candidate who will bring Senator Sanders’ policies to the people and government of Iowa. I heard their concerns about moving Iowa toward a $15 an hour minimum wage, healthcare as a right for all, clean water, a better income tax and property tax system, expansion of renewable energy incentives, and restoring excellence to our education system. This is a conversation ALL Iowa Democrats need to have and ignore at their peril.
While having this conversation, it has become clear to me that this is not the right time for me to pursue higher office. Statewide issues affect Johnson County, but at this time I want to continue to address these issues on the county level. My work in Johnson County is unfinished and I want to put my energy toward continuing the progress we have made in several areas. The momentum started in raising the minimum wage can be sustained in other projects to address income inequality. I want to continue projects to encourage renewable energy, promote local food production, reduce hunger and to address affordable housing in a meaningful way. I want to keep doing the job the people of Johnson County hired me to do.
One last factor in my decision is that our present campaign finance system is dehumanizing to both the candidate and the contributor. I did not look forward to having to raise over $2 million just to be competitive in a gubernatorial primary and another 2 to 3 million dollars in a general election. That is an obscene amount of money and may indicate that the Governor’s race may go to the highest bidder. Elections should be won based on leadership qualities and policy differences and not on the depth of the candidates and donors pockets. Personally, my goal is to seek public financing of Iowa campaigns and national campaigns. It is clear to me that the big issues Democrats want to address will not be solved until we get the stain of big money out of politics.
While I will no longer be a candidate for Governor, my interest in returning Iowa to its people will not end. I am not endorsing another candidate for Governor at this time. However, the Sanders supporters in Iowa are looking for a candidate for Governor who will address the issues that Sanders raised in his campaign and bring them home to Iowa. I will be involved in helping to find that candidate.
Johnson County Supervisor
319-594-6453 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus