Union Organizer Cathy Glasson to Explore Gubernatorial Bid [Updated]

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Update, 6/1: On Thursday, John Norris, a former chief of staff to Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack and past Iowa Democratic Party chairman, filed paperwork to run for governor in 2018. The list at the end of this story previously listed him as having made no formal announcement; he has said he will make an official announcement later this month.

Original post: Coralville resident Cathy Glasson, an intensive care unit nurse for the University of Iowa’s hospital and the president of the Service Employees International Union 199 chapter, announced today that she has formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for governor in 2018 in the Democratic primary.

In a video released as part of her announcement, Glasson criticized Iowa Republicans for stripping collective bargaining rights earlier this year and advocated for a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare, stronger commitment to public schools, and stronger regulations to improve the quality of the state’s badly polluted waterways.

Democratic news website Iowa Starting Line has a longer biography of Glasson.

The high-stakes race is seen as a major opportunity for Democrats with the departure of Republican Terry Branstad — the nation’s longest-serving governor — to China after his recent confirmation as ambassador. The party hasn’t held the governor’s office since January 2011, when Chet Culver’s tenure came to an end after his first term and comeback defeat by Branstad.

Glasson becomes the 11th major-party member to be currently considering or have officially declared their entry into the 2018 gubernatorial race. Here’s a full list:

Announced or filed paperwork

  • Nate Boulton (Democrat), Des Moines state senator
  • Rich Leopold (Democrat), former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Andy McGuire (Democrat), former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party
  • Jon Neiderbach (Democrat), former Des Moines school board member
  • John Norris (Democrat), former IDP chairman and chief of staff to Gov. Tom Vilsack
  • Todd Prichard (Democrat), Charles City state representative
  • Kim Reynolds (Republican), Iowa governor

Exploring bids

  • Cathy Glasson (Democrat), SEIU 199 union president
  • Fred Hubbell (Democrat), retired Des Moines business executive

No official announcement

  • Ron Corbett (Republican), Cedar Rapids mayor
  • Mike Matson (Democrat), Davenport alderman
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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.