All Tom Hoefling is asking for is a fair listening. After that, he asks you to vote your conscience.
“If, after listening to me, you decide you’re backing Gov. Branstad, I want you to vote for him,” the 53-year-old GOP gubernatorial candidate said during an interview with the Daily News on Monday afternoon. “That’s why we have a representative government. It’s meant to represent our interests.”
Hoefling said he didn’t expect to be running against five-time incumbent Gov. Terry Branstad in the June 3 primary, but decided to run when no one else would. He said he felt Republicans deserved a “conservative option” on the primary ballot.
The Lohrville resident is a strident social conservative. As a Christian, he said he is against gay marriage and has been on record supporting efforts by his local legislator, State Rep. Tom Shaw, to push a personhood bill in the Iowa General Assembly.
But he chooses to frame those positions through the prism of his positions on education, economic development and taxation. On each of those issues, he said:
• Education — Hoefling said he differs from Branstad because he opposes the Common Core State Standards, which he said Branstad supports. He instead supports an approach he has labeled TLC: True Local Control. He proposes altering the way tax money is collected and spent on education, keeping funding locally and giving local school districts more ownership of their own operations.
“The way things are set up now, school board members already have most of their budget earmarked the second they sit down to start working; there’s little opportunity for ownership,” he said. “Common Core is the final blow to any semblance of local control. Even independents and Democrats who aren’t in the party elite understand that; my position has broad appeal.”
• Economic Development — Hoefling said today’s economic development efforts are little more than “crony capitalism” in which most people are not benefiting. He proposes “equal protection under the law,” in which everyone’s interests are protected while everyone benefits. He would also propose getting rid of the state’s income tax, and to “get the state off the throats of small businesses” through the elimination of burdensome regulations.
“Where I’m from, people look over the Little Sioux River at Sioux Falls, which has grown by about one-third in the past 10 years alone, and see what can happen when government is less intrusive,” he said. “Iowa has one of the highest marginal tax rates in the country ... There’s a reason why we’re not prospering the way we should; the rhetoric isn’t matching up with reality. I’ve been to more than a dozen counties so far, and there are lots of empty storefronts almost everywhere I go.”
Hoefling said he also would push for a constitutional amendment to change the way judges are appointed and retained in Iowa. He said he supports a system similar to that of the federal judiciary as opposed to Iowa’s current system, which he said is run by the Iowa Bar Association.
He said the Iowa Supreme Court’s April 2009 decision in Varnum v. Brien was an example of the loss of “checks and balances” in government. While he applauded the removal of three of the Supreme Court justices involved in the decision, he said the other four should have been impeached and removed from office.
“Tom Shaw offered resolutions to do just that, but they were buried by the Republican leadership in the Iowa House,” he said. “We are a constitutional republic, not a judicial oligarchy; we have to restore the system of checks and balances ... We can’t save our country unless we deal with that problem.”
Hoefling offers a simple, 100-word “unity platform” he feels all Republicans can rally behind:
Just as ‘good fences make for good neighbors,’ good government is mainly about knowing where the legitimate boundaries are, and having the courage to defend those borders forcefully. This is true in terms of the defense of our territory, our security, and our national sovereignty, but it also applies to the sworn duty of all of those in government to equally protect the God-given, unalienable rights of each individual person, from their creation onwards, their sacred obligation to stay well within the enumerated powers of our constitutions, and of the role legitimate government must play in balancing the competing rights and interests of the people, in order to establish justice.
Hoefling likened his campaign approach to that of political movements during the nation’s infancy, but accelerated by the advent of social media and technology. In his experience as a political consultant, he has frequently had to operate on shoestring budgets.
“I haven’t really sought out those kinds of big-name endorsements,” he said when asked if any of his former employers are backing his current run. “I’m looking for the endorsement of everyday people, regular people.”
Hoefling worked the town squares of Jasper County throughout the day Monday, hitting Newton’s downtown area in the afternoon. In the evening, he spoke to the Jasper County Republican Party Central Committee.
Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.