Knoxville — Longtime political activist Tom Hoefling of Lohrville is hopeful that his grassroots campaign, nurtured by the conservatism of Iowans, will gow into a term as Iowa's next governor.
Hoefling has worked on many campaigns (mostly Republican) over the years, with the exceptions of the John McCain and Mitt Romney presidential runs. He was not happy with either of their nominations. A self-professed conservative, Hoefling briefly became a Republican to support Bob Vander Plaats' 2010 gubernatorial run.
Vander Plaats lost to Gov. Terry Branstad in the primary that year. Now is Hoefling's opportunity to try to earn the Republican Party's nomination. Hoefling was asked how he thought he could defeat Iowa's longest-serving governor.
"There are a lot of reasons," Hoefling said. In his opinion, most Iowa Republicans are conservative and that Branstad does not represent their priorities. For instance, Branstad has been supportive of Common Core education in Iowa. Hoefling considers himself a "Reagan Conservative" and that those who supported President Reagan in the past will support him as well.
Conservatives comprise the base of the Iowa GOP. Hoefling also cites his success in earning a spot on the ballot, which requires signatures from several counties, to get done. Grassroots made that happen and he believes that grassroots support will help him overcome Branstad's monetary war chest, as well as the spending that will come in the general election.
Hoefling believes that the key to true economic development in the state does not fall under the current structure of the state choosing which entrepreneurs, businesses and projects receive funding. One way to spur growth is to end Iowa's state income tax, Hoefling said.
"I want to get rid of our state income tax," Hoefling said. Growth has been seen in states with no such tax.
This proposal is supported by Iowans who identify themselves as Republicans and Democrats.
Today's sophisticated communication tools will also allow Hoefling to contend for the Governor's Office without financial support comparable to Branstad's. Hoefling believes that voters should stop playing "political bookie" and look at each candidate's track record and principles.
"We believe in what we're doing," Hoefling said. "Those who know me know my record."
Lohrville is in Calhoun County, in northwest Iowa, between Carroll and Fort Dodge. Hoefling said it is approximately 130 miles northwest of Marion County. From that part of the state, Hoefling has worked on a number of political campaigns and established a reputation among Iowa conservatives.
Branstad was once called "too conservative" during his first campaign 32 years ago. Hoefling expressed disappointment with Branstad's proposed budget, which neared $7 billion, for the coming year. This is five years after Republicans were screaming about the state's first $6 billion budget, under Democrat Chet Culver.
As he's traveled around the state, Hoefling has "seen more empty storefronts than (he) can count." He is also concerned about the consolidation of school districts, which has left lasting harmful impacts on rural areas. Fixing Iowa's problems cannot be done with "gimmicks," according to Hoefling, but getting back to the basics and working from there.
"We've got to get to the fundamentals," Hoefling said.
Regarding public policy and the law, Hoefling is proponent of equal protection under the law. Everyone should be treated the same. He does not believe in "hate crime" legislation, because when one begins to enact laws based on thoughts, it could lead to more problems.
"Crimes are crimes," Hoefling said. "The whole hate crimes approach is just ridiculous."
Hoefling went on to criticize Branstad's work on bullying. He does not believe that is the role of the governor.
"We shouldn't be electing governors to micromanage the behavior of children," Hoefling said. He added that the office is "governor," not "state daddy."
"Bureaucrats do not teach children," Hoefling said.
The governor, and all government should only perform those tasks that the average person cannot do himself or herself, such as protecting the rights of all people and providing national security. He believes that if government gets away from performing other tasks, it would benefit the state.
We intend to speak with Hoefling more before the June 3 primary. For more information, visit http://www.tomhoefling.com.