DES MOINES — Iowa’s 2014 governor’s race is off to a fast start.
First, it was Republican Gov. Terry Branstad who was found traveling in a speeding vehicle driven by a state trooper last year. On Monday, it was Democratic opponent Jack Hatch being ticketed by a state trooper for driving 10 mph over the posted speed limit on Interstate 80 near Altoona.
Hatch’s campaign issued a news release saying that at 10 a.m., Iowa State Patrol officers executed a routine traffic stop and cited Hatch, a state senator from Des Moines, for operating a motor vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit by traveling 65 mph in a 55-mph zone on eastbound I-80.
“Law enforcement did everything right, and I thank those officers throughout the state who put themselves at risk on our behalf every day to keep Iowans safe on our roadways. I have great respect for them and the work they do,” Hatch said in a statement.
Hatch spokesman John Hedgecoth said the state trooper who stopped Hatch’s vehicle said the senator’s vehicle was clocked traveling at 68 mph in a work zone but the officer chose to issue a citation based upon a 65 mph with no additional fine because the offense occurred in a work zone. Those decisions were made by the state trooper without consultation with the senator, Hedgecoth said.
“I take responsibility, and offer no excuses,” Hatch added in his statement. “I will pay this ticket in full when I return to Des Moines Tuesday. Accountability is important. I offer a stark contrast to the current governor when it comes to dodging responsibility and attempting to hide the truth from Iowans.”
Hatch was referred to a situation last year where an Iowa State Patrol trooper chauffeuring the five-term GOP governor was clocked doing 84 mph in a 70-mph zone.
At that time, Hatch called on Branstad to tell Iowans how many times the state-owned vehicle he travels in has been pulled over or had its license plates run through police databases. The data also would reveal whether they had avoided speed camera-generated citations because of the undercover licenses on the governor’s vehicle, he said.
Hatch said the governor should make public that information after the state Department of Public Safety decided it should remain confidential to avoid any potential threat to the governor’s safety. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate also spent $40,000 on a television ad campaign poking fun at the governor over an April 26 speeding incident with a parody of the 1970s movie, “Smokey and the Bandit.”
At the time, then-Branstad campaign spokesman Jimmy Centers issued a statement saying ““You would think a guy with 20 years in the Legislature would have positive accomplishments or a vision he could use to introduce himself to Iowans.
“Instead, liberal Sen. Jack Hatch has decided to roll out a negative, Washington-D.C.-style attack ad that shows he’s more interested in petty partisan attacks than he is working together to move Iowa forward,” added Centers, who has since moved from the campaign to a job as communications director in the governor’s office.
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