CARROLL – They are best known for charging the stage when Republicans are speaking, trying to shout down candidates at public forums, disrupting state board meetings and damaging private property during mass protests. Despite their notoriety, Democrat gubernatorial hopeful Jack Hatch apparently plans to base his governorship on the concerns of the liberal Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement group.
“My governorship is not going to be based on relationships with powerful people or with just politicians. It’s going to be with you,” Hatch told a group of 31 CCI members during a forum in Carroll Saturday night.
This is the same group that attempted to storm the stage when Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke at the state fair last year. Other members shouted at Ryan throughout his entire speech, ruining the event for people who had waited for hours in the hot sun to hear what Ryan had to say.
Routinely, CCI buses members to the private homes of elected officials or even private citizens, trespass on the property and destroy lawns while staging loud protests.
CCI was even denounced for their behavior by the Iowa Democratic Party in 2011, after they hurled insults as Senator Grassley and even used physicality to prevent him from leaving an event in Carroll County.
However, Democratic candidate for governor Jack Hatch made it clear he would like the group’s support. He began pandering to CCI during his opening remarks on Saturday.
“I want to dispel a rumor that a guy from a city doesn’t understand small towns. I grew up in a small town,” he said.
Hatch grew up in Farmington, Connecticut. Despite its name, Farmington does not exactly fit the bill of a small town, nor did it when he was a child. Farmington is actually an affluent suburb of Hartford and some of the largest corporations in the world are headquartered there.
Farmington, CT, had a population of almost 11,000 in 1960, when Hatch was 10. That’s not a metropolis, but it’s much bigger than the small Iowa towns where most of the CCI members in attendance reside.
Hatch has lived in Des Moines for the past 45 years. Just in case CCI members still thought he was a “big city guy”, the state senator repeatedly claimed his Des Moines neighborhood is “a lot like a small town”.
Sen. Hatch then pointed out that his neighborhood, which he has spent 17 years representing in the Iowa Legislature, has a 20 percent unemployment rate and the highest infant mortality rate in Iowa. “It has businesses boarded up and homes that are vacant,” Hatch admitted.
The gubernatorial hopeful then informed the liberal activist group that the numerous stances he has staked out in his gubernatorial campaign are not definite. Essentially, he told CCI that he’s willing to adapt his campaign platform to suit their desires.
“I’ve been criticized for saying I’m running for governor because I think I know all the answers. Well I don’t,” Hatch told the group in his opening remarks. “These positions that I’m taking can be altered. They can be changed.”
Hatch promised the group that campaign finance reform would become one of his priorities if he wins the race for governor. However, Hatch also made it clear that, as a matter of principe, he is not opposed to big money being involved in politics. Senator Hatch wishes there was more big money backing Democrats like himself.
“There’s too much money in politics. It’s being controlled too much by the, there’s nothing wrong with wealthy people. It’s just that they seem to have more wealthy people than we do, so our wealthy people, there’s not enough of them,” Hatch said.
Several attendees denounced corporations during the meeting, but records show ICCI has received significant financial support from corporations for several years.
Local control, in relation to agriculture, was a major topic during the 90-minute discussion. Hatch largely tiptoed around the issue. Toward the end of the meeting, Rosie Partridge, a CCI member from Sac County, who also served as the moderator, demanded Hatch admit he supported local control.
“I feel like I’m in an AA meeting. My name is Jack and I’m for local control,” Hatch said. He later added that he didn’t mean to be “lap dancing” around the issue. Yes, he said “lap dancing”, not “tap dancing”.
Ironically, while ICCI rails against out of state agricultural operations investing in Iowa, the vast majority of ICCI’s funding comes from out of state.
Senator Hatch also stated he supported a 10 cent increase in the gas tax, raising the minimum wage to $10.10, raising the income tax on those who make more than $200,000 and raising the threshold for those who do not have to pay income taxes from those who make $9,000 annually to $15,000.
Next month, CCI plans to continue its annual ritual of shouting in the State Capitol on the day Governor Branstad delivers his Condition of the State address. Hatch promised CCI he would set aside some time to meet with them that day.
Providing a stark contrast to ICCI’s countless boisterous protests, there was no shouting or outlandish behavior during the Saturday meeting in Carroll. Attendees did repeatedly break the rules that they keep their questions to less than one minute and they actually ask questions, not make statements. However, it is clear that CCI members are much calmer when they find a politician angling for their votes and promising to support their liberal priorities. It appears Jack Hatch is their man.
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