Next step. Patty Judge leveraging extensive state legislative and executive experience, campaigning for the U.S. Senate. We're questioning Patty Judge on this edition of Iowa Press.

Funding for Iowa Press was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television Foundation. I'm a dad. I am a mom. I'm a kid. I'm a kid at heart. I'm a banker. I'm an Iowa banker. No matter who you are there is an Iowa banker who is ready to help you get where you want to go. Iowa Bankers, allowing you to discover the genuine difference of Iowa banks. Iowa Communications Network. The availability of high speed broadband service is essential to fulfilling the promise of a connected Iowa. ICN's Broadband Matters campaign showcases the importance of delivering broadband to all corners of Iowa. Information is available at broadbandmatters.com. Iowa Community Foundations, an initiative of the Iowa Council of Foundations, connecting donors to the causes and communities they care about for good, for Iowa, for ever. Details at iowacommunityfoundations.org. The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the public's partner in building Iowa's highway, bridge and municipal utility infrastructure. The Arlene McKeever Endowment Fund at the Iowa Public Television Foundation, a fund established to support local programming on Iowa Public Television.

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For decades Iowa Press has brought you politicians and newsmakers from across Iowa and beyond. Now celebrating more than 40 years of broadcast excellence on statewide Iowa Public Television, this is the Friday, October 7 edition of Iowa Press. Here is Dean Borg.

Borg: Patty Judge has a resume, extensive and varied. Registered nurse working in public health. Businesswoman working with her husband in cattle farming and as a realtor appraising and selling farmland. Mediator for the Iowa Farmer Mediation Service during the 1980s Farm Crisis. Six years in the Iowa Senate serving as both the democratic assistant majority and minority leader. Then eight years as Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture during Tom Vilsack's administration. Four years then as Chet Culver's Lieutenant Governor. And she's now co-chairing a bipartisan political action committee promoting ethanol in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. Then, the bell rang for the U.S. Senate, that seat now held by republican Charles Grassley. And after defeating three other candidates in June's democratic primary she is the party's nominee campaigning to join republican Joni Ernst as Iowa's second woman Senator. Lieutenant Governor Judge, I've given the resume here and that means that you've been at the Iowa Press table several times.

Judge: I have been and it's good to be back, Dean. Thank you.

Borg: It's good to have you back. Thank you. Iowa Public Television had scheduled an Iowa Press Debate between Chuck Grassley and Patty Judge as part of our special political programming leading up to the election. Both candidates accepted that invitation. But last Friday, Senator Grassley withdrew from the debate.

Borg: Across the Iowa Press table now, Lee Newspaper's Capitol Bureau Chief Erin Murphy and Radio Iowa's News Director Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Iowans look to neighboring states of Missouri and Illinois and Wisconsin and they see democratic candidates there well poised to push out republican incumbent Senators. There's a lot of outside spending in those states. There's no outside spending in this state to think of. Is Iowa turning into a republican state?

Judge: Kay, I think Iowa is a purple state and it always has been. I think we'll probably remain that way. Iowans have a pretty independent streak and we don't just follow party lines, we are voters that really probably because of our first-in-the-nation status we have the opportunity to talk to a lot of politicians and we're pretty discerning voters.

Henderson: So then why isn't your race more competitive?

Judge: Well, I think it has been competitive. I think I'm closer right now to Chuck Grassley than anyone has ever been since 1980. And we are in a pretty good position right now. So we'll keep campaigning hard every day. And truthfully, the more opportunities that we have to get our word out the better off we'll be.

Murphy: You've said if elected that you'd like to serve on the Agriculture Committee in the Senate. That committee will start work soon on the next Farm Bill. Is there anything in that legislation that you'd like to see changed?

Judge: Well, I think we have an opportunity every time we write a new Farm Bill to change things that work. I also as Secretary of Agriculture certainly learned that one size does not fit all in U.S. agriculture and it really is a give and take process to get a Farm Bill written. I think we need to be sure that the next one we write offers a safety net for farmers whether that's a federal crop insurance safety net or whether it's some other form. But we've had good prices for quite a while, that's not going to be true probably in the next short while at least and we need to be sure that we do not put family farmers in a position where we lose another generation of farmers.

Borg: Are you saying that that's happening right now because of the low corn prices and low commodity prices? And would the different Farm Bill have changed things?

Judge: Well, it hasn't happened yet, Dean. But, again, this is the first harvest in a long time where we're going to see corn and beans brought in at low prices and corn particularly at below, some of it below the cost of production. Most people do have crop insurance now and we'll see how this works. This is really, in my opinion, the first test that we've had of the present Farm Bill and whether or not that's going to function. But what we have to be certain is that we do what we can to keep family farmers on the farms. Farms have gotten larger and larger, fewer and fewer people out there. But we are still an agricultural state. Our communities depend on agriculture too for commerce. And it's important that we keep that strong and healthy throughout this market downturn.

Henderson: Hillary Clinton has proposed adjusting the estate tax to a rate in the past that was higher. Donald Trump says that will turn family farmers off the farm because it will prevent people from passing a farm onto the next generation. Who do you agree with?

Judge: Well, I don't agree with Hillary's plan on estate tax. I certainly agree with Hillary many, many more times than I agree with Donald Trump. But on estate tax I believe that we need to probably leave well enough alone and not lower the amounts as she is suggesting because, again, farming is a variable thing and land prices may be very high at a given time or they may not be and, again, estate tax is a tricky issue for Iowa farmers and I don't think that we want to lower the thresholds.

Murphy: Our guest on this program last week, Kim Weaver, who is the democrat running for Congress in the fourth district in northwest Iowa, she said that she believes it's time for the federal government to restrict the amount of manure and other kind of farm chemicals that are used and can end up in the water supply if the state does not do that. Is that something, do you agree with Ms. Weaver on that? Does the federal government have a regulatory role there?

Judge: The federal government does have a regulatory role and will have in the future. I believe that agriculture can be strong, that we can raise the crops we need to, to feed the world as we have been. But we have to take into consideration today the fact that our water quality is deteriorating and we are going to have to be serious about getting that cleaned up.

Henderson: So do you favor the voluntary approach to nutrient management or would you have the federal government set standards?

Judge: I believe we are at a place where we are going to have to look at standards and accept that. Again, we can write standards so that they work for family farmers. But we are going to have to be serious about cleaning up the water.

Borg: Imposed by the federal government? Standards imposed by the federal government?

Judge: Yes. We have the Waters of the United States Rule now that is of course a subject of discussion and discussion. But when we get that rule right and we're not talking about regulating mud puddles and road ditches, but we are talking about our waters, our rivers, our streams, there will be a role for the federal government. And, again, I want that to be a sensible role and one that really achieves the goals that we're looking for and that is that we start cleaning water up and leave cleaner water for the next generation than we have in the past.

Henderson: So you envision the federal government having a farm-by-farm standard for how much farm chemicals you can put on cropland?

Judge: No. I think we go to the water and what can we do to make certain that the amounts of chemicals that are running off are appropriate. I don't think we've decided that yet, Kay. And when we do then we'll have some standards. But I think the days of looking at voluntary compliance are probably very short now and we are at a point where we will have to have some standards, some regulations, and our job as legislators is to make certain that those are realistic, that they are something that farms can comply with and still farm. And I believe we can do that.

Borg: I want to talk about water of a different kind, destructive, flooding that we've just had in northeast Iowa and down toward the Cedar Rapids area and below. Cedar Rapids specifically has had flood control approved by Congress but hasn't received the federal money. What could you do as a U.S. Senator that hasn't currently been done in getting the money released by the Army Corps of Engineers to Cedar Rapids for flood control?

Judge: Well, of course this, I was Homeland Security Advisor in 2008 and certainly was on the ground and knew what happened in Cedar Rapids and it is just inconceivable to me that this many years later that mitigation has not been funded and started.

Borg: You're upset about it, but what would you do?

Judge: Well, first of all, Congress has talked about it, they've passed legislation, but they have not funded it. They have not funded the federal government portion of that mitigation. And so they blame the Corps of Engineers, the Corps of Engineers blames Congress for not giving them the money and at some point they have to --

Borg: It's a matter of enough money is what it is. The Army Corps of Engineers has a set amount of money they have been given by Congress and they can't, they don't have enough to give it away to everybody so they do it by population and Cedar Rapids is not high enough population.

Judge: Well, if I were in the Senate, that mitigation money would be something that I would try to be talking about every day. It is not enough to say that you wrote a letter, that you got a response back from the Corps of Engineers. It is imperative that our federal delegation seriously pursue that funding and seriously pursue making certain that Cedar Rapids is able to put those mitigation measures into place. Climate change is real. This flood that we just had could have had devastating effects. We got lucky. We may not get lucky the next time and Cedar Rapids has got to have those measures and we have got to make certain that that happens.

Murphy: Senator Grassley has talked about the formula that decides which priorities, which projects get priority for that funding and that Cedar Rapids is in a tough place in that formula because of land values in the Cedar Rapids area. How do you go about getting that changed to get something in Cedar Rapids moved up the priority chain?

Judge: Well, if the formula isn't working for a city like Cedar Rapids, which is the second largest city in our state, which their government buildings are in harm's way, then that formula needs to be changed, Erin.

Henderson: Do you, if you're elected as a U.S. Senator, intend to support changes to the Affordable Care Act? There are some including Bill Clinton who have said some of these premium increases we're seeing are crazy. It's hard for rural Iowans who are buying individual policies to find affordable insurance. How do you resolve these problems?

Judge: Well, the Affordable Care Act is providing insurance coverage for millions of Americans who did not have it prior and certainly it's not a perfect bill but it goes a long way. So what I would support is looking at that bill again, it's not unusual for there to be flaws in a large piece of legislation, we need to go back in and have the discussion and make the corrections that we need to make to make it a better bill. It is not an either or as the republicans and my opponent have talked about. We don't need to say we're going to get rid of it every time the subject is brought up, but instead how can we fix the issues that we see are wrong, the premium increases, the fact that we didn't give Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices, there are issues that need to be corrected and we can do that.

Henderson: Let's talk about drug prices. There's a lot of attention on the EpiPen, which is used by people who might have an allergic reaction to a bee sting or something of that nature. Your opponent has said that this calls on the FDA to speed up approval of lower priced generics. Is that the answer to deal with these skyrocketing prices for products like the EpiPen and others?

Judge: Well, again, I think also talking about why that premium, that rise in that product, took place is appropriate. I believe that this capitalism is what we're all about and everybody has a right to make money on their goods and services, but the kind of increases that we see in drug prices is not acceptable and it's something the federal government needs to be examining closely.

Henderson: Price controls or how do you do it?

Judge: Well it may be, that certainly is an issue that other countries have dealt with and that is the way they have found to deal with the issue.

Murphy: You told the Sioux City Journal's Editorial Board this week that you don't feel there's a need for a federal balanced budget amendment, but not only that, that you don't feel that there's a need for that at the state level here in Iowa, which we always have. Independent analysis typically rates Iowa's fiscal health as pretty good, average to above average. Hasn't that balanced budget amendment been good for the state's economy?

Judge: Erin, I'm not sure it was the balanced budget amendment that made any difference. I think people in Iowa have been fiscally sound, whatever administration has, since I've been around whatever administration has been in the Governor's Office and in the majority in the legislature. We have always found ways to make certain that our budgets were balanced, that we left a healthy balance in the bank, I think that's part of being an Iowans, it's being pretty frugal and we've done a good job here. I wish the federal government had done as well as we have over the years. $19 trillion or almost $20 I guess trillion budget now and in fact $18.5 trillion of that have happened since my opponent has been in the Senate.

Murphy: So does the federal government not need that kind of structure to help get the federal budget back in order like Iowa's is?

Judge: My objection to those kind of amendments is they really do not take into account what might happen, war, some catastrophic events.

Borg: What you're saying is you don't favor a legal mandate for a balanced budget such as Iowa has in its law?

Judge: I think that we need to leave that out of our Constitution.

Henderson: Immigration has been an issue in many races. Do you support a path to citizenship for individuals who entered the country illegally?

Judge: Let me tell you what I do support. I support comprehensive immigration reform and a bill that was passed two years ago in the United States Senate, which my opponent opposed, in fact tried to lead a filibuster against. It has been sitting since that time, since it passed, in the House, has not been taken up. That piece of legislation would give us a guide, it would give us some structure and it would provide that undocumented people that are working now in our country would have to obtain proper documentation. I think that is step one. We have to do that before we talk about paths to citizenship, we really have to start talking about documented workers in the country.

Borg: If you were elected to the Senate, would you favor a move by whoever is President and the Congress to increase the military strength of the United States?

Judge: I think we have to keep a strong military. I don't know that we are at a point, Dean, where I would talk about increasing the strength, but definitely keeping a strong military presence, keeping up-to-date, making certain that not only our troop strength was adequate but that the tools that they use are modern and up-to-date and address the issues that we have today.

Murphy: I wanted to go back real quick to another topic on immigration. Your opponent has some web ads running critical of a response you gave to a question on sanctuary cities for immigrants living in the country illegally. Do you support federal funding for these sanctuary cities?

Judge: Well, there is no federal funding for them now as far as sanctuary cities go. Again, if we had a comprehensive immigration reform the whole question of sanctuary cities, all of these issues would be taken care of. The obstruction, the deliberate action to not move forward with immigration reform, is really, has compounded this issue. And we're not saying we have to agree, Erin. What I'm trying to say is that we need to have the discussion on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and if we have a difference of opinion then as men and women of good faith let's figure out some solutions.

Murphy: You noted this has become a very partisan and heated political issue. How do you bridge that divide? How do you get a discussion back at the table to have a resolution on immigration reform?

Judge: Well, you have to be wiling. You have to have members of both the House and the Senate that are willing to have a discussion, that are willing to talk abbot these issues. I've spent the last six, eight months of my life traveling around the state talking to people of all walks of life, talking to them about what is important to them, what they think we should do or not do, and the issues that are important to them are the issues we've been talking about here today. But we're not hearing those discussions in the halls of our Congress, on the floors of our Congress, and that is why people are unhappy. That is their anger and their frustration with Washington.

Henderson: If you become a member of the U.S. Senate would you vote to send ground troops to Syria?

Judge: Kay, that's a difficult question. With what I know today, I would not. But I would also, I also have been Homeland Security Advisor of this state, I know that threats are real and that we have to take measures to make certain that people are safe in our country.

Borg: What would be the tipping point then to make you decide, you say it's uncertain --

Judge: If I were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, Dean --

Borg: What would convince you?

Judge: I would have to be convinced that there was a real threat to our security here. As of today I think the actions that have been taken by President Obama are correct. I support his, the air strikes, the economic sanctions, the actions that he has taken. But as far as committing more American soldiers to the ground I'm not at that point.

Murphy: You have said you oppose the trade deal, the Transpacific Partnership. What do you say to Iowa farmers who say that trade is crucial for the state's agriculture economy?

Judge: Well I certainly know trade is crucial. Again, I've been Secretary of Agriculture for eight years and I know we have to trade. This particular trade agreement I believe is not perfected and is not something that I would support. When we look at what is good for agriculture we also have to look at what is good for the workers of our state and our country and this particular bill I believe does not address adequately the fact that wages in our country are higher, our standard of living is higher and it really puts our workers at an unfair disadvantage with low wage countries.

Henderson: The U.S. Senate will not be in session again until after the election. At that time should the U.S. Senate confirm the nomination of Merrick Garland or should they wait for the next president to nominate someone to replace Justice Scalia?

Judge: I think it would be very disingenuous of them to do it immediately after the election. That's just like okay, heck we lost so we might as well go ahead and confirm this guy. That is just, again, that's just disingenuous. However, let me say this, I believe that that was a really serious mistake. Presidents are elected for four years and that hearing should have taken place. I'm not saying we have to vote for that person, I don't know. But I think the United States Senators would know at the end of a hearing whether or not that was a person that should be confirmed.

Borg: We're running out of time. Erin?

Murphy: Your campaign was critical in an ad of Senator Grassley's attendance on the finance committee. They countered that you had a number of missed votes during your time in the Iowa Senate and had some low attendance rates on some boards and commissions. Why did you miss all those votes and have low attendance?

Judge: First of all, I think we'll turn that around because the ad that was run was run far before we brought out the fact that Senator Grassley had had some 70% absence on his budget committee. If you really examine those kind of things there really is very little credibility to them. Things happen, people have conflicting committee at the same time and we all do as best we can.

Borg: Thank you, Mrs. Judge, for being here today. We appreciate your insights.

Judge: It's good to be here. Thank you.

Borg: Well, next week we'll be bringing you one of the Iowa Press election special editions that I referred to earlier. We'll be questioning next week the republican and democratic candidates to represent southeast Iowa's second congressional district, incumbent democrat Dave Loebsack and republican Chris Peters in an hour-long special Iowa Press Debate and you can watch it live online as it occurs at 1:30 in the afternoon next Friday on iptv.org. And then you can see it on air at 7:00 next Friday night and then rebroadcast at 11:30 Sunday morning. Please note the earlier Iowa Press airtimes both days to accommodate that hour-long special debate. I'm Dean Borg. Thanks for joining us today.

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Funding for Iowa Press was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television Foundation. I'm a dad. I am a mom. I'm a kid. I'm a kid at heart. I'm a banker. I'm an Iowa banker. No matter who you are there is an Iowa banker who is ready to help you get where you want to go. Iowa Bankers, allowing you to discover the genuine difference of Iowa banks. Iowa Communications Network. The availability of high speed broadband service is essential to fulfilling the promise of a connected Iowa. ICN's Broadband Matters campaign showcases the importance of delivering broadband to all corners of Iowa. Information is available at broadbandmatters.com. Iowa Community Foundations, an initiative of the Iowa Council of Foundations, connecting donors to the causes and communities they care about for good, for Iowa, for ever. Details at iowacommunityfoundations.org. The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the public's partner in building Iowa's highway, bridge and municipal utility infrastructure. The Arlene McKeever Endowment Fund at the Iowa Public Television Foundation, a fund established to support local programming on Iowa Public Television.