The No. 1 job of the governor is to “raise wages and improve the standard of living for all working people,” Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Cathy Glasson told a nationwide audience of progressives over the weekend.
“I’m truly sick and tired of working people in our state getting beat up,” Glasson, a Coralville nurse and president of Service Employees International Union Local 199, told members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee on a conference call Sunday.
She was referring to the Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature that “gutted union rights, lowered wages, took away health care services from women’s health and went on to privatize a Medicaid system that had worked and gave contracts to their corporate friends.”
Glasson has been talking to Iowans around the state as she considered formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. She said what she learned is that working Iowans want a “bold, progressive governor who is not going to be a sellout to corporations and CEOs … someone who is not afraid to take on big challenges, make big plans and take bold, progressive steps.”
Glasson participated in the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s candidate training program over the summer. Committee co-founder Adam Green called her “a gut-level economic populist … (who) could end up being one of the top bold progressives running for governor this cycle.”
More than just campaigning for governor, Glasson said she is building a “bold, progressive movement so Iowans have a voice in government and to give working people a reason to stand in line at the polls.”
Iowans want Democrats who stand for big ideas, she said.
“In fact, that to win an Iowa Democratic primary in 2018 and in 2020, candidates need to be a champion for big, bold populist economic ideas like Medicare-for-all,” Glasson said. “This is really about building a national movement across the country beyond 2018 and leading to the presidential cycle in 2020.”
Glasson said that as governor, her agenda would be raising the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour, expanding union rights, passing universal, single-payer health care — on the state level if Congress won’t enact a national Medicare-for-all plan — and making clean water the birthright of every Iowan.
She also wants to restore collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public employees. Glasson said she would demand the Republican-controlled Legislature, which increased K-12 funding by 1.11 percent — $40 million — this year, open the purse strings.
“I would veto anything less than 4 percent school funding,” she said. “That’s what we used to do in the past, but now, it’s not a priority anymore.”
High state spending on schools is necessary to give teachers “the pay raises they need so we can attract and retain quality educators.”
Glasson has scheduled a campaign event at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the DoubleTree Hotel & Convention Center in downtown Cedar Rapids. Supporters around the state will gather at several locations at that time to watch her launch video before hitting the streets to canvass for Glasson. Among the locations is the Stone Fountain at Vander Veer Botanical Park, Main and West Lombard streets, Davenport.