Candidates for Governor Disagree on Drugs and Taxes During Final Debate

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DES MOINES, Iowa–There were a few moments Wednesday night but the five Democrats running for governor largely avoided criticizing each other during their third and final debate, this one just six days before Tuesday’s primary election.

A few policy differences emerged among the candidates. Only former Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn and John Norris, former Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Vilsack, said they would repeal the Republican-led tax cuts that Governor Kim Reynolds had signed into law early in the day.

Only former registered nurse Cathy Glasson said she would opposed raising the states sales tax 3/8 of a cent to fund natural resources improvements. Voters already approved that back in 2010, but lawmakers have never implemented it.

The candidates also disagreed when it comes to drugs. All five Democrats want to expand the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Glasson was the only candidate to talk of legalizing personal use of recreational marijuana and taxing it to help the state’s finances.

Norris was, perhaps, the most critical of the race’s presumed front-runner Fred Hubbell, a Des Moines businessman. Hubbell has criticized the tax cuts but hasn’t called for fully repealing it. Norris offered Hubbell advice during the debate, “Be cautious about being against that tax cut before you were for it. That will be a difficult position to both criticize it and defend it in this (general) election, if you get there.”

Hubbell responded that he would have vetoed the tax cuts–if he had been governor at the time–but acknowledged that he isn’t.  “You have to recognize that you’re governor of everybody, not just a few people. You have to recognize the pieces that are good and get rid of all the rest,” Hubbell said.

The debate was sponsored by KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register.