Corbett hits the road

CR mayor seeking GOP nomination for governor


Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said he always drives past Marshalltown High School’s Leonard Cole Field to reminisce about his football playing days with the Newton High School Cardinals in gridiron battles with the Bobcats.

The two schools were once fierce rivals until Newton joined another conference.

Corbett, a Newton native, will be calling upon his football experiences as he is in the early stages of an intense battle challenging Gov. Kim Reynolds for the right to carry the Republican banner in the November 2018 general election.

They will face off in the June 2018 Republican primary.

She starts as the favorite, with strong backing from the party establishment, including former governor and now Ambassador Terry Branstad, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, joined by Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

Reynolds has $1 million in her campaign fund and plans to double that by the end of the year. She recently released a list of 1,050 supporters in all 99 counties.

Corbett, 56, is undaunted, saying it is time for new leadership and ideas.

He announced his candidacy last month and hit the ground running.

A campaign theme is Corbett wants to do for Iowa what he did in Cedar Rapids … bringing the city together and helping it rebuild from a devastating 2008 flood while fighting off a second flood last year.

Corbett was in town Wednesday campaigning, calling on Mayor Jim Lowrance, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors and the Times-Republican while handing out copies of his book “Beyond Promises” and sharing his ideas for Iowa’s future.

Coupled with a strong resume — the youngest speaker in the history of the Iowa House for one — Corbett believes he will convince Republicans he is the best candidate to lead Iowa.

Doing so will require him to run a state-wide campaign and meeting as many voters as possible.

“Call it the Grassley effect,” said Corbett of Grassley’s annual 99-county visitation program. “Iowa voters want to kick the tires, people want to know if you want the job … one must work hard to get their vote.”

Corbett, mayor of the state’s second largest city since 2009, told the T-R he has specific plans to tackle some of the state’s biggest challenges, from the cumbersome Iowa tax code to water quality to Medicaid.

“The state’s tax rate is too high and is discouraging local business expansions and new businesses coming into Iowa,” said Corbett.

In two visits with the local Pachyderm Herd club Corbett has discussed water quality at length.

“We’re in support of the 3/8 penny (increase in state the state sales tax rate) to fund the (Iowa Department of Natural Resources) Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund,” he said.

“The Medicaid program is in trouble,” he said. “It was top-down policy by the Branstad administration … recipients are not getting benefits and providers have taken out lines of credit to meet payroll … they are not being reimbursed quickly. The state has 73,000 residents in Medicaid, that is more than the population of Council Bluffs.”

Corbett said as Cedar Rapids mayor he earned a reputation as a consensus builder.

“I believe in developing policy from the bottom up,” he said. “You sit down with all impacted and listen to their concerns … you don’t necessarily have to agree, but they will respect you for listening.”

Money is the oil of politics and Corbett said he is viable.

“We have $804,000 in cash and $200,000 in pledges, he said.

Marshall County residents will be seeing more of Corbett.

“I will be here Aug. 1,” Corbett said. “Larry McKibben (local attorney) invited me to the (Marshall County Republican) fundraiser at Don and Becky McKibbens. Larry and I served in the legislature in the 1990s, and I am one of the featured speakers. I have been in Marshalltown several times … I spoke to the Pachyderm Herd club twice and Rotary Club. I am a Jasper County boy and I want to win Marshall County.”