DES MOINES, Iowa — Two candidates for Iowa governor didn’t take long to go at it during their first debate held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Thursday.
Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, and State Senator Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat, disagreed on the gas tax, tax cuts and tax breaks, among other issues.
Hatch continued his campaign themes of trying to connect Branstad with problems in state agencies, calling Branstad’s, “The most scandal-ridden administration in the history of the state.”
Branstad made frequent mentions trying to tie Hatch with previous Democratic Governor Chet Culver. “Big Debt Chet”, Branstad said, arguing that Hatch wants to increase state spending and taxes.
But one topic carried over after the debate ended. It involved the $1.8 billion deal with Egyptian-based Orascom to build a fertilizer plant in Lee County in the southwest part of the state. The plant is expected to provide hundreds of temporary construction jobs and 165 permanent jobs.
The deal is backed with $100 million in state incentives. Hatch echoed comments made by Dave Swenson, an Iowa State economics professor. “The dumbest deal in the history of the state,” Hatch said when asked by reporters following the debate. Hatch believes the deal unnecessarily gives too many incentives.
Branstad said of Hatch’s opposition to the tax incentives, “That was a stupid move. And he’s going to have to debate me in Burlington next month, near where that fertilizer plant is being built.”
Watch the full Iowa Press debate at www.iptv.org.