By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — State Sen. Jack Hatch brought his campaign for Iowa governor to Ottumwa Tuesday morning, saying one of the biggest challenges is convincing Democrats statewide that Gov. Terry Branstad can be beaten.
“Let your family and your friends know that we can win this election,” he said. “Terry Branstad doesn't have a coronation coming up.”
The Ottumwa visit was a homecoming of sorts for Hatch, who had an office in Hotel Ottumwa back in the 1980s. He was greeted before the event by Jim Schwartz.
“Were you with Jack Hatch Associates?” Schwartz asked. When Hatch said yes, Schwartz perked up. “You were in this room. You were one of the early tenants of this building.”
Hatch, a state senator from Des Moines for the past 11 years and a state representative for a decade prior to that, said Iowa needs a change from the “top-down” approach Branstad uses for economic development. By going after major corporations, Branstad doesn't always take into account what local communities need in terms of development.
The solution for Hatch is to shift the state's efforts to support the goals of cities and counties in Iowa. He said he wants to create new avenues for those local governments to communicate with the state. And he rejected the idea someone from Des Moines can't understand the needs of the rest of the state.
“We sometimes forget that this is one state. Our population is no larger than St. Louis,” he said. “We can't be divided. We are one Iowa. We will rise and fall as one state.”
Hatch focused his attacks on Branstad rather than criticizing his rivals for the Democratic nomination. There will be a time for critiques, he said, but he cautioned against infighting during a campaign that will run for more than a year.
“My target is Terry Branstad,” he said. “He seems to have one goal, and that goal is to be the longest-serving governor in America. We need more than that.”