DES MOINES — Lohrville Republican Tom Hoefling has set his sights high in making his first bid for statewide elective office in Iowa.
He’s taking on the longest-serving governor in U.S. history in Iowa’s June 3 Republican primary election, and trying to deny Gov. Terry Branstad an unprecedented sixth four-year term.
“I think we’ve got to do what we think is right and leave the results to God,” said Hoefling, 53, who conceded that political experts probably don’t give him much of a chance given Branstad’s huge money advantage and name recognition. But he’s counting on Iowans’ dissatisfaction with government to buoy his chances.
Branstad, 67, brings a long list of accomplishments into his latest re-election bid, having served four terms as Iowa’s 39th governor from 1983 to 1999. He defeated Democrat Chet Culver in 2010 to return to the governor’s office.
Branstad said he was pleased he and the Legislature were able to pass the largest tax cut in state history, education reforms, expanded health care changes and budget changes. He also touted $8.8 billion in private-sector investments since his current term began, but added, “The work’s not done.”
“I don’t intend to rest on my laurels,” he said. “Anybody that’s watched me knows I grew up on the farm, I started out at a very early age with a lot of responsibility and worked very hard. I love this state and nobody is going to outwork me. My goal is to be in the best shape and run the best campaign that I’ve ever run.”
Hoefling said the things that Branstad claims as accomplishments are partly responsible for his decision to run, saying Branstad supports core education curriculum requirements and the loss of local control that most conservatives reject. He also criticized Branstad’s fiscal 2015 budget plan that topped $7 billion and called for $508 million in spending increases — hardly a fiscally conservative proposal, he said.
Hoefling also said Branstad’s approach to economic development has been cronyism and picking winners and losers, and he called the property tax relief passed during the 2013 session a sham. Instead, he said, the state should abolish its income tax and turn education over to local communities and parents.
Hoefling said Branstad has not “lifted a finger” to end abortion, defend marriage as between one man and one woman or rein in activist judges.
Hoefling described himself as a longtime national conservative political activist, writer, publisher, organizer, and consultant known primarily for his pro-life work and his defense of traditional marriage. He was closely associated politically for many years with former U.N. ambassador and GOP presidential hopeful Alan Keyes.
Branstad is bringing an unbeaten streak of election successes into the June 3 primary.
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•Name: Terry Branstad
•Occupation: Governor of Iowa
•Previous Elected Experience: governor of Iowa, 1983-1999, lieutenant governor, 1979-83, Iowa House, 1973-79
•Name: Tom Hoefling
•Occupation: activist, consultant, online publisher
•Previous Elected Experience: None