Guest post from ISU student Cody Woodruff.
Like many other viewers of the first Democratic gubernatorial primary debate, I was disappointed with the lack of an actual debate. I may have made my decision of who to support long ago, but I still wanted to see how the candidates would interact with one another under the spotlight of a debate stage.
It brings a whole new pressure with verbal sparring and jabs intended to elicit a reaction, and all of this is necessary in order to distinguish between the candidates and figure out who’s the best to go head-to-head with Kim Reynolds in November. Picking a candidate is more than just finding who aligns closest with your preferred policy stance, and debate performance should play a factor in your eventual decision.
I want to be clear – I’m not asking for an all-out blood bath where candidates relentlessly attack one another. That would do nothing for voters or for our party. However, I would like to see legitimate differences pointed out between the candidates by the other candidates. No one wants to be the first to go negative, but you don’t have to. Respectful criticisms and genuine disagreements are a fundamental part of choosing who our party’s nominee will be in this race, and I must stress the importance of not turning it into a spectacle where candidates try and score “points” by using one-liners created to generate headlines with little substance.
If these candidates want to make our party and our politics better, set an example by having an actual debate. We’re so worried about repeating the mistakes of 2016 that we’re adhering perhaps a little too closely to the phrase “Iowa nice” and avoiding what politics is supposed to be about.
Candidates need to push one another, not necessarily for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the voters still making their decision. It will make themselves, their campaigns, and our party better in the long run if done correctly, and we have a great field of people that I believe can achieve that. Without it, we’re immediately on weaker footing when entering the general election because our nominee has not been adequately prepared. Early voting has already started, and ballots have been cast, so there’s absolutely no time to waste in these final weeks! Certain issues need addressed in order to find the best gubernatorial nominee for the Democratic Party, otherwise we may as well hand the nomination to whoever appears to be the current frontrunner.
For example, I want to know how Fred Hubbell plans on inspiring younger voters or how he plans on connecting with everyday Iowan while taking six-figure checks from his seven-figure friends. I want to hear Cathy Glasson defend herself as a union leader even though many of her own members criticize her amid losing a union recertification vote. I want to listen to Andy McGuire as she defends her time as IDP Chair despite statewide losses and major setbacks to our party. These are all fair questions that need asked and beg answers, so why have they largely been ignored on the public stage?
We all have the same goals in mind: rebuild the party, win in 2018, and help Iowans across the state. I like all of these people and, as Andy McGuire said, any of them would be better than Kim Reynolds, but that doesn’t mean I think they should be the nominee. I personally don’t think Fred Hubbell can win the general election, but other voters should get the opportunity to make up their own minds on that matter and many more by seeing the candidates truly in action.
This election isn’t going to be easy, but we’re only making it more difficult on ourselves by avoiding conflict and giving ourselves a false sense of security in the name of party unity. I’m quite certain that after the past two years of Republican-controlled government, the party will come together and support our nominee – there’s too much at stake not to.
by Cody Woodruff