In the three months he has been exploring a bid for governor, Sen. Jack Hatch has discovered Iowa “is a pretty big state.”
“I spent seven-and-a-half hours one Saturday in the car to deliver two speeches of seven minutes each,” the Des Moines Democrat said today.
In all of his travels, Hatch also discovered that Iowans want a public policy discussion and that Gov. Terry Branstad “is more vulnerable than people think.”
When he formally enters the race for the Democratic nomination Sept. 17, Hatch will have a message “not only about where we want Iowa to go, but I’m going to have ideas and proposals in my speech.”
“I’ve always believed that good politics is based on good public policy and that’s the basis for where we want to run,” Hatch, 63, said. “We need policy changes and there are differences between us and the governor — and maybe between our Democratic colleagues.”
Whoever gets the nomination, Hatch said in an interview, must convince Democrats – and Republicans “who have been disappointed in the governor’s move to the right and are looking to see if a Democratic candidate will emerge who they can embrace” that Branstad is beatable.
“There is a soft underbelly being exposed by the governor’s campaign where he may be overextending his welcome in the state of Iowa,” Hatch said.
Branstad, he added, “has made political mistakes that he’s unable to correct.” A speeding ticket issued to an Iowa State Patrol trooper who was chauffeuring the governor is just one of those mistakes.
Hatch tried to capitalize on that with his “Smokey and the Branstad” television ad that used humor to deliver a message that Branstad thinks he’s above the law and not held to the same standards as everyday Iowans.
“The ad got really good response. Iowans can respond to hard-core political differences if you make them laugh,” Hatch said. “We’ll make that case on other issues as well. It really showed that Iowans are interested in listening to a message that was presented to them differently.”
Hatch acknowledges he has taken some criticism for forming an exploratory committee rather than directly jumping into the race. Not only did he need time to put his business affairs in order – he and his wife, Sonja, own Hatch Development, a residential/commercial builder with developments in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, but he had to convince himself he was right for the task.
“I had to make sure. It’s a pretty high hill to climb, a task that is not taken lightly,” he said.
“As much as we feel as politicians we have the pulse of what’s going on and we can articulate the issues, until you go before a group and throw an idea out you don’t really know whether or not you can connect,” Hatch said.
His exploration convinced Hatch he can “translate some of the issues people have in a way that people think shows a difference between us and the governor.”
For more on Hatch, visit http://www.jackhatch.com/.
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