Break from bipartisan: A rundown of Iowa’s third-party candidates

Enter your address to find your voting location. -- photo by Jimmy Emerson
Enter your address to find your voting location on Nov 4. — photo by Jimmy Emerson
By Tom Nixon and Casey Wagner

Had enough of ads complaining about Bruce Braley’s attendance record or Joni Ernst’s connection to the Koch brothers? Have you sunk into despair at the thought of four more years of Terry Branstad as governor? Are you just sick and tired of the two-party system and want to vote for something different this year?

Well, you’re in luck! With plenty of third party and independent candidates running for office this November — including the usual stalwarts (the Libertarians and Iowa Party), a new political party (New Independent Party Iowa) and four non-Republicrats running for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat — there are plenty of options to choose from this Tuesday if you’re mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore.

New Independent Party Iowa

Well, you can say this about the New Independent Party of Iowa (NIP): they’re not short of ideas. If you’re a political junkie or really, really dig reading about public policy ideas, their website is a dream to work your way through. However, while the amount of detail they provide is laudable, it’s not the most accessible website ever. A simple, basic, 12-point platform would do wonders for the NIP.

Their ideas range from the intriguing (a plan to promote 100,000 small, diversified family micro-farms) to the dubious (six new public universities, two in western Iowa). But their biggest idea involves reorganizing Iowa’s state government from top-to-bottom to lower the overall cost of state government per person and they back it up with a raft of ideas aimed squarely at moving Iowa into the 21st century and beyond. The party website says that all NIP candidates for public office “will sign a pledge not to raise or spend any money to win election” to ensure special interests are not involved, and “[a]ll of our candidates from governor to dog catchers will depend on a statewide cooperative campaign managed by our state and county party committees.”

Governor: Jim Hennager

Lt. Governor: Mary Margaret King

Jim Hennager lives in Nevada (the city in Iowa, not the state), has traveled extensively, is an avid reader and grows organic tomatoes in a greenhouse. Hennager was a national adviser to former presidential candidate Ross Perot and the Reform Party, as well as a city councilor in three different cities. He has worked in manufacturing and agri-business, and was laid off from his factory job in 2008.

“I have been to the bottom of the valley financially, and I do not believe anyone should have to go there,” he wrote on his website. He supports “the constitutional right of people to use pot but I think you are crazy to put anything foreign into your body unless it greatly improves your quality of life.” In line with the NIP’s vision, he believes government costs and taxes are too high, advocates for redesigning the education system, replacing school textbooks with a cloud-based curriculum, the creation of “New Independent Credit Unions” in all 99 counties to offer savings accounts and business loans, the building of enclosed communities “with year around temperatures of 72 to 78 degrees,” “[w]orkfare rather than welfare” and raising the minimum wage to $15.

Secretary of State: Spencer Highland

Spencer Highland did not respond to requests for information. His address is listed in Ames by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. According to the New Independent Party Iowa website, Highland turned 21 in August. His main issue is the unfair treatment of Iowans aged 18–20, who can vote and serve in the military but cannot buy alcohol, gamble, rent a motel room or sign a contract. The party website notes that Iowans younger than 21 also cannot be elected to the Iowa Legislature, “which means they pay taxes but are not represented.”

Secretary of Agriculture: Levi Benning

Levi Benning also did not respond to requests for information. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office lists his address in Plainfield. According to the New Independent Party Iowa website, Benning is 26 and comes from a farm family. His website says, “His main concerns are to create more opportunities for young farm families in Iowa and to improve our record on cleaning up Iowa’s streams and lakes as well as improve our soil conservation.”

Libertarian Party

With their credo of “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom,” Iowa’s Libertarians are one of two parties accorded ballot status as a non-party political organization — but, unlike the Green Party, the Libertarians at least showed up this year. If you’re a disaffected Democrat or a resigned Republican, there are policy positions that both ends of the political spectrum can appreciate, including ending corporate welfare, eliminating all “possession only” laws in the state for marijuana, eliminating income tax and promoting school choice and vouchers.

Basically, if you’d prefer that the government just, you know, not bother you at all, the Libertarian Party is probably a good party to check out.

Governor: Lee Deakins Hieb

Lt. Governor: Tim Watson

Lee Deakins Hieb, an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Logan, is running on a platform of constitutionally based leadership. She believes that “overregulation is sucking the lifeblood out of productive Iowans” and wants to “shrink government, taxation and regulation” in order to create jobs. Her five concrete plans are to end Iowa’s use of the Common Core in education, “fight to undo the Obamacare state exchanges because, in short, it will break the bank of Iowa,” disband government boards filled by “unelected bureaucrats” and make the Iowa House and Senate the only bodies that can approve laws.

Hieb also stresses the need for more freedom for household businesses and proposes increasing government transparency via the creation of a website that clearly shows how state money is spent. Hieb’s running mate is Tim Watson, an “outspoken critic of the creeping government influence into the private sector” who lives in Missouri Valley and works in the medical supplies industry.

Secretary of State: Jake Porter

Jake Porter lives in Council Bluffs, works for Yahoo in Omaha as a customer care agent and spends much of his free time fishing and traveling across Iowa. He pledges to ensure that the Secretary of State’s office is non-partisan and to make it easy for all Iowans to participate in the election process. He proposes allowing online voting registration, developing a “secure system that allows Iowans to vote anywhere in the state for their local elections,” continuing the use of paper ballots and avoiding the use of “online voting machines,” and streamlining the Secretary of State’s online business services.

Porter believes voter photo identification is costly and unnecessary, and, if elected, he will ask the legislature to cut the Secretary of State’s salary from $100,000 to $50,000 so it is in line with Iowa’s median income.

State Treasurer: Keith A. Laube

Keith A. Laube, a former engineering consultant who is now the Public Works Director for the City of Newton, writes on his website that he “thinks and makes decisions like a taxpayer.” One reason why Laube is running for office is because he believes current State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald has been in office too long. (Fitzgerald has served as Iowa’s State Treasurer since 1983.) Not only is Laube concerned that Fitzgerald is misappropriating money from Iowa’s 529 college savings plan for thinly veiled reelection ads, he would like to reform the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System so it is fully funded. According to his campaign website, Laub plays tenor saxophone in the Newton Municipal Band and performed in the Newton Community Theater production of Oklahoma.

United States Senate: Douglas Butzier

Sadly, Douglas Butzier was killed on Oct. 13 when his plane crashed near the Dubuque Regional Airport. According to Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert, via a directive from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Butzier’s name will remain on the ballot because Butzier was not nominated by any of the state’s officially recognized non-party political organizations or political parties (For candidates nominated by recognized political parties, the Iowa Code would require a special election to be held in December). In the case that Butzier would win the election, Chance McElhaney, the Communication Director for the Secretary of State, said Butzier would be declared elected but a vacancy would occur at the beginning of his term when he is unable to assume the duties of the office.

According to Iowa Code Section 69.8, the governor would appoint a replacement. Butzier was born in Mt. Pleasant, grew up in Cedar Falls and practiced emergency medicine in Dubuque for 17 years. He earned an MBA from the University of Iowa in 2007. On his campaign website, Butzier wrote, “I have long been concerned about the incredible national debt and its threat, not only to our national security, but to the very survival of our place as the greatest nation on earth.” He was an advocate for gun rights and believed, “We need to get the federal government out of healthcare, out of the marketplace, out of the classroom and out of our wallets.”

Other independent candidates

Governor: Jonathan R. Narcisse (Iowa Party)

Lt. Governor: Michael L. Richards (Iowa Party)

He’s baaaack! After a signature drive snafu kept him out of the Democratic primary, Jonathan Narcisse is once again running for governor with the Iowa Party. A native and resident of Des Moines, Narcisse is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Iowa Bystander and publisher of El Comunicador, Iowa’s first statewide Latino paper, and Iowa Fronteras, Iowa’s first statewide Spanish-language paper.

An accomplished chess player and former semi-pro boxer, Narcisse pledges to end corporate welfare, require identification and volunteerism for state assistance, restart Iowa’s engine of community capitalism through tax reform, cut up to $2 billion from the state budget, opt out of No Child Left Behind and the Common Core, provide a tiered minimum wage structure but repeal the youth minimum wage, invest in vocational and technical education and offer Iowans a tuition-free college education.

United States Senate: Bob Quast

Bob Quast lives in Blue Grass and is the Department Chair of Business, Accounting, Criminal Justice, Paralegal & Information Technology at Brown Mackie College in the Quad Cities. Quast, who is seeking just a single term in the Senate, is an advocate for sustainable energy and environmental conservation, the Fair Tax and a two-term limit to political careers. In honor of his sister Lynnette, who was murdered by her husband in 1999, Quast has made it a mission to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence and has proposed Lynnette’s Law, which aims to protect victims of domestic violence and their families from aggressors. Quast’s website features a short, repeating video in which a young man asks, “What if I don’t stop seeing your daughter?” Quast replies, “I’m gonna use my Glock…to blow your balls off.”

United States Senate: Rick Stewart (Independent)

Rick Stewart, the co-founder of Frontier Co-op and part-time volcano guide in Guatemala, is not a Democrat or a Republican and has 99 reasons you should for for him. Among the reasons he lists are “he will de-militarize the police,” “he’ll get the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom” and “his chocolate chip cookies are dangerously delicious.” He believes in ending government subsidies for agriculture and college tuition, getting the government out of the health care system and selling green cards for $50,000. In June, Stewart began a quest to visit all of Iowa’s 99 counties by bike (He had visited 89 as of Oct. 8). If elected, he promises not to meet with any lobbyists, vote against any legislation that exempts politicians from its effects and never introduce an earmark.

United States Senate: Ruth Smith

Ruth Smith, a Lamoni native and resident who has three children, has been a physical therapist for 23 years and is currently a member of the Lamoni City Council. The personal values she lists on her website are compassion, honesty, personal responsibility, justice, equal opportunity and innovation. Smith appreciates and supports the principles and values of both Republicans and Democrats, and advocates for approaching issues in a way that balances individual responsibility and community responsibility. She believes in removing “big money” from political campaigns through campaign finance reform, foreign policy that emphasizes mutual respect, the development of alternative energy sources, carbon taxes, tying the minimum wage to inflation, ending corporate welfare and bailouts, immigration reform and secure borders.

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