Six candidates running for governor of Iowa talked about dozens of issues Wednesday in Johnston.

Voters across Iowa heard directly from the six Democrats running for governor on one stage Wednesday night as the first bit of daylight was aired between them three weeks from Election Day in June.

Iowa Public Television's 1 1/2 hour event was the first debate of the 2018 election cycle in which the candidates were given a chance to respond to each other's policy points in a public forum.

The debate's three moderators, David Yepsen, host of IPTV's Iowa Press; James Lynch, political reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette; and Kay Henderson, news director for Radio Iowa, had no qualms about allowing the four men and two women to address accusations leveled at them and try to distinguish themselves from a crowded field that, for most voters, has largely been indistinguishable.

Cathy Glasson, a labor leader and nurse from Coralville, talked often about the "bold" and "progressive" movement she was leading in Iowa to bring about policies like a $15 an hour minimum wage, a universal single-payer health care system and strong unions. 

When asked whether voters might perceive her as too liberal to win in a general election against Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, Glasson pointed the audience toward elections across the country this week that resulted in several Democratic women winning their primaries.

"Bold, progressive women candidates (are) winning and that's what we need in Iowa, is a vision moving us forward, not status quo policy and politics as usual," Glasson said from the debate stage in Johnston.

Fred Hubbell, a businessman from Des Moines, came under the most scrutiny Wednesday from his fellow candidates, facing accusations about tax credits utilized during his time as director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development and his fundraising prowess helped in part by wealthy donors.

In response to a comment from John Norris that his campaign was funded largely by wealthy friends in Des Moines, Hubbell pointed to the more than 2,000 financial contributions he has collected since launching his campaign in July.

"I don't think all of those (people) live south of Grand in my district," Hubbell said, referencing a well-to-do part of the city.

Andy McGuire, former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, talked often about her career as a physician and in the health care field as reasons why she was uniquely qualified among the other Democrats on stage to reverse the privatized Medicaid system implemented in 2016 under then-Gov. Terry Branstad.

"I think that's really an emergency and we need to do that right away," McGuire said.

When candidates were asked about the first bill they would work with legislators to pass as governor, Sen. Nate Boulton of Des Moines focused on bringing back Iowa's collective bargaining law, largely repealed by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2017.

"One of the first things we have to do is start treating Iowa workers in this state with dignity and respect again. We saw a heartless attack on workers across the board this last legislative session," said Boulton, a workers' rights attorney who grew up in Columbus Junction.

Hubbell, shown to be leading the field in a KBUR-AM/FM poll released last week, said one of his first moves as the state's chief executive would be to curtail its use of tax credits, particularly for large corporations.

"The first thing I want to do is make sure we stop the wasteful tax giveaways," he said. "Put caps on all the credits, exemptions and deductions and put sunsets on all of those things so we can stop money going out the backdoor and take that money and invest in education, health care and infrastructure so we can grow our economy and give people the health and education they deserve."

Norris, former chief of staff to Gov. Tom Vilsack, said as voters cast their ballots he wanted them to remember he was "unapologetically passionate about rural Iowa."

"We cannot afford to sustain the human and physical infrastructure of this entire state just with the Ames, Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids corridor."

Ross Wilburn, a former mayor of Iowa City, emphasized some issues the other candidates didn't bring up, such as a crackdown on human trafficking and how to help Iowa's LGBTQ population feel welcome in Iowa.