Iowa governor Terry Branstad is shown giving a speech in the rotunda inside the Iowa State Capitol building on Friday, January 16, 2015. (The Daily Iowan/File Photo)
Iowa governor Terry Branstad is shown giving a speech in the rotunda inside the Iowa State Capitol building on Friday, January 16, 2015. (The Daily Iowan/File Photo)

New guy on the ‘bloc’ aims high

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By Molly Hunter | molly-hunter@uiowa.edu

Despite his inexperience as a legislator, Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, has received a great deal of support in his party since kicking off his gubernatorial campaign.

Soon after announcing his run for Iowa’s governorship on May 4, Boulton’s campaign released a list of 14 legislators who have given him their support. Former presidential candidate Martin O’Malley also congratulated Boulton on joining the race on Twitter.

But Boulton remains a new face in the Legislature. He began his first term on the Iowa Senate in January, and his seat in the Legislature is the first elected office he’s held.

However, Boulton said, his experience defending workers’ rights as an attorney will serve him well.

Boulton worked on a lawsuit in 2012 that fought Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s forced closure of workforce centers across Iowa, which provide job services to Iowa’s under-employed and unemployed.

“The governor shut those workforce centers down despite the Legislature appropriating funds for those centers and actually tried to keep the funds for those centers to use as he saw fit,” Boulton said. “We stood up to the governor and lieutenant governor when they did that and scored a unanimous Supreme Court decision.”

According to Sen. Joe Bolkom, D-Iowa City, Boulton has earned his colleagues’ respect.

“He arrived at the Statehouse in January and wasted no time fighting back against what’s been just a major assault on working people in Iowa,” Bolkcom said. “It was Republican extreme idea one after the other … He arrived at a time when we needed a fighter.”

Boulton was opposed to the controversial bills that cut wages, worker benefits, worker’s compensation, and women’s reproductive health care.

“As a state senator, Nate has pushed back on Republican collective-bargaining attacks that put our way of life in jeopardy,” said Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, in a press release from Boulton’s campaign on Tuesday.

With the current Republican majority in Iowa, one might think his strong stance against many Republican-backed policies would hurt him, but Boulton disagrees.

“I don’t think Iowa is a red state,” he said. “Just 10 years ago, Democrats had control in of the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s Office.”

Moreover, Boulton said recent Republican policies have sparked resistance.

“We’ve seen thousands of people come to the Capitol, we’ve seen hundreds of people show up at forums to make sure that the Branstad-Reynolds team understands that Iowans do not support the agenda that they’ve been carrying out,” Boulton said.

He has had particular success attracting younger voters.

“He just got through a six-day tour of the state, and a lot of young people showed up at the rallies and events he’s had,” Bolkcom said.

Bolkcom said a big part of Boulton’s message is making Iowa a place for young people to thrive.

“They’re the ones that should be concerned the most about the future of Iowa and making sure our economy does not leave huge segments of our population behind,” Bolton said.

This story was corrected for precision.