The Working Families Party is endorsing Cathy Glasson in her bid for Iowa governor today, adding to Glasson’s coalition of national progressive organizations to help her close strong in the primary. They hope that will serve as one more sign to Democrats’ left-leaning voters in Iowa that they should back Glasson for the party’s nomination.
“Cathy Glasson is a progressive champion who will fight to make sure every Iowan has healthcare when they need it and can earn a wage that supports their family,” said Joe Dinkin, spokesperson for the Working Families Party. “Cathy is running a bold, visionary campaign and we look forward to helping her become Iowa’s next governor.”
Today’s endorsement joins previous backings from other national progressive organizations, including Our Revolution, National Nurses United, People’s Action, Progressive Campaign Change Committee, 350.org and Caring Across Generations. The Iowa-based Citizens For Community Improvement has been organizing for Glasson for months as well.
It all puts Glasson’s candidacy on the national radar for the progressive movement in 2018. An intensive care nurse, Glasson is the local Iowa president of SEIU and has received considerable financial support from the national healthcare union. She’s based much of her campaign on the same themes that Bernie Sanders ran on in the Iowa Caucus, from a $15/hour minimum wage to free college to a universal, single-payer healthcare system at the state level in Iowa.
Progressive organizations have touted their success in high-profile primaries around the country in recent months. The Working Families Party backed Stacey Abrams, who just won the Georgia governor primary, and endorsed Kara Eastman, who won an upset over a former Democratic congressman a little closer to Iowa in the Omaha, Nebraska-based district. Many former Bernie Sanders activists in Iowa have tried to carry on his success here in the years since the caucus, and have largely coalesced around Glasson’s candidacy.
“We’re seeing unprecedented enthusiasm among progressives this year,” Dinkin said. “Cathy may not have the establishment support, but she’s gaining ground every day. She has the energy as well as a vision that will appeal to the progressive grassroots.”
After Nate Boulton’s departure from the gubernatorial field earlier this week, many Iowa Democrats are looking around for a new candidate to support. A lot of those people are union members, and Glasson has pitched herself as a champion of organized labor, promising to repeal Iowa’s “Right To Work” law and make it easier for workplaces to organize a union.
“It’s obviously a tough time for Boulton supporters, and we feel for them,” explained Dinkin. “We believe Cathy’s progressive vision and her strong support for unions and all working Iowans will resonate with them.”
She faces four other remaining Democrats in the race, including Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell, who has enjoyed a sizable lead in most public polls. Hubbell has campaigned around the state extensively and far outspent the rest of the field, though Glasson has been better-funded than most far-left candidates, thanks largely to SEIU’s $1.8 million in donations. She came in second in the fundraising totals in the most recent report, bringing in $593,000 to Hubbell’s $3,014,000.
But the entire primary field is largely in flux right now, with no one exactly sure how things will re-sort themselves after Boulton dropped out. There’s still an outside chance that the nomination could be decided at the state convention if no candidate gets to 35%, but it’s more likely that someone will need to defeat Hubbell outright in the primary.
Glasson, along with Iowa 3rd Congressional District candidate Pete D’Alessandro, represent interesting case studies for the progressive movement. They represent the far-left policy positions that many candidates have run on since Sanders’ presidential bid, but they also have enough outside funding – from unions or Sanders’ operation – to put together competitive campaigns. Many candidates running on progressive visions have struggled with fundraising, so all this support from national organizations helps to fill in the gaps.
“For decades the Working Families Party has been fighting to level the playing field for working people across the country,” Glasson said in a statement. “They know that half-measures and tinkering around the edges aren’t going to change politics and give everyday Iowans a voice in their government again. In 2018, we have an incredible opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of more than a million Iowans by fighting for a bold, progressive agenda to raise the minimum wage to $15, make it easier to join a union no matter where you work, fight for tough new gun laws, and create a universal health care system that covers everyone in our state.”
The Working Families Party is a national organization that’s been working to support and elect a host of progressive candidates to office at the local and state level. They’ve been involved in over 1,000 races this year alone. They are particularly focused in on neighboring Wisconsin’s Randy Bryce’s campaign to replace Paul Ryan in Congress.
The Democrats’ primary for governor is on June 5.
by Pat Rynard