Fred Hubbell and Sen. Rita Hart ended the first day of their “Iowa Forward Tour” at the Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa in Coralville on late Monday afternoon. The low-key event, a listening session for the candidates to learn about the center’s programs, was very different than the tour stop in Clinton earlier that day.
In Clinton, the Democratic candidates attracted a crowd of more than 100 to Chancy Park for a rally, despite the high mid-day temperatures. The tour is meant to introduce Hart, who was announced as Hubbell’s pick for lieutenant governor at the Iowa Democratic Party convention on Saturday, to a statewide audience. No introduction was needed in Clinton, however. Hart has represented both Clinton County and part of Scott County in the Iowa Senate since 2013.
“I am smart enough to know you’re not all here to see me,” Hubbell told the crowd.
Prior to running for the Senate, Hart taught for more than 20 years in the Calamus-Wheatland and Bennett school districts. Hart lives in rural Clinton County, where she runs her family’s farm with her husband.
Hart originally endorsed fellow state senator Nate Boulton for governor, but now points out that she made her endorsement before Hubbell entered the race.
The event in Coralville was almost the mirror-image of the one in Clinton. It was indoors, and not intended to attract the public. The only people present were a few Democratic politicians (including Sen. Joe Bolkom and Senate District 37 candidate Zach Wahls), more than a few members of the media, Kirkwood staff and other educators who work with Kirkwood-based programs.
Most of the 45-minute visit by the candidates was taken up with a presentation on Career Academy programs offered by Kirkwood at the Coralville center. The programs allow high school students to take courses to earn college credit, as well as receive career training.
Typically, listening events like the one at Kirkwood involve politicians looking attentive during the presentation, then thanking the presenters and quickly moving on to the next event. Hubbell, however, interrupted the presenter to ask a detailed question about how funding for the programs at Kirkwood compared to funding for similar programs at the Des Moines Area Community College. At another point, he asked a series of questions about job placement statistics, and whether Kirkwood tracks how many Career Academy students are hired by local employers. Kirkwood doesn’t currently collect that information.
Hubbell said those statistics might help more people understand the effectiveness of community college programs.
“Sometimes you need the facts to convince people,” Hubbell said.
Hubbell and Hart’s tour continues through Thursday, with stops in Polk, Marion and Pottawattamie counties.