Narcisse kicks off campaign

Former Des Moines School Board member Jonathan Narcisse, a publisher of weekly newspapers, kicked off his campaign for governor this morning.  The event was held in a small conference room in a community center in the Sherman Hill neighborhood of Des Moines.  Narcisse stood behind one of the high-backed chairs that surrounded the conference table as two TV cameras, a photographer, two radio reporters and a Des Moines Register reporter recorded the event.

His mother, Gaynelle, and his daughter, Perserverance, were there as were a small group of supporters and two staff members.  A former financial planner from Madrid has signed on as his campaign manager.  Narcisse said his goal is to raise $4-5 million.  If he doesn’t win the Democratic primary against Governor Chet Culver, Narcisse said he will run as an independent candidate in the general election.

Narcisse began by saying he was a candidate for governor, then he opened it up to questions.  Read the Radio Iowa story about the event.  It includes Narcisse calling Governor Chet Culver’s trip to Iraq a “photo op” and Narcisse’s discussion of his own weight loss.  He’s gone from a size 44/46 to something near a 34/36.  Narcisse was diagnosed as a diabetic, but Narcisse said he’s totally off medications now, because of the weight loss.

“Iowans are going to have a real choice…a choice of someone that will put Iowans first; that will be able to have a vision of small, effective, accountable government; that will be able to advance a low-tax, free-market economy; that will restore the greatness of our education system and also, I think this is important…Iowa has an obesity crisis.  Our children are too obese.  Our elderly people are unhealthy.  Our families are unhealthy and one of the priorities of the next governor has to lead by example, a campaign to fight lifestyle and obesity-induced disease and as someone who has gone from a 44/46 to 34/36 in a year, who’s completely off medications a year later…I’ve probably lost 60 pounds, 70 pounds and it hasn’t been easy…Even before Governor Chet Culver was elected I held statewide health and education hearings…so health was a priority of mine long before Governor Culver was elected…Iowa’s obesity crisis is not about Governor Culver, but sometimes you have to have leadership by example…What I’m saying is I will provide leadership by example.”

Narcisse, as outlined in the Radio Iowa story, is calling for significant changes in the sales tax system.  He would expand the services which are subject to sales tax.  “(Senior citizens) pay seven percent on toilet paper and denture cream.  Single moms working three jobs pay seven percent on a Happy Meal when they’re going between jobs, but you have areas of sales tax exemption for those who are the wealthiest Iowans  like when they’re purchasing massive amounts of legal services to circumvent their social responsibility.”

Narcisse is calling for lowering the sales tax to three percent by 2014.  He would also allow schools to use the sales tax money that’s designated for school construction and maintenance projects to pay teachers.  That’s an idea which is wildly unpopular with Republicans who charge that was the unspoken goal of the sales tax anyway, to “get more money into the hands of the teachers’ union.”  Republicans went bonkers in 2008 when Culver even seemed to hint at the idea.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.