CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — On the campaign trail, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad likes to draw comparisons to neighboring Illinois as a way of highlight the best qualities of his state and, by extension, his 20 years in the governor’s office.
On Monday, his Democratic challenger, Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, drew comparisons between Iowa and Illinois that cast the governor in a much less favorable light.
“When you think about politics in Illinois, you think about politicians behaving badly,” Hatch told the Downtown Cedar Rapids Rotary. “We’ve all heard the stories about governors going to prison and elected officials on the take.”
He asked the Rotarians to imagine they were a few hundred miles to the east in Rockford, Ill., listening to a challenger make his case for replacing an incumbent who removed 990 people from nonpartisan merit jobs and replaced them with political appointees, who paid hush money to employees to prevent them from talking about their firings, who twice was found in violation of the Iowa Constitution by the state Supreme Court for closing a state juvenile home and workforce development offices, who gave $110 million to a foreign company under investigation for fraud and bid rigging, and who had a 25-year law enforcement professional fired after the man reported the governor’s vehicle had been speeding.
“If you were the Rockford Rotary, you would say that’s business as usual in Illinois,” Hatch said.
But they are Iowa examples, the actions of the incumbent governor, Hatch said.