US Senate candidate Rick Stewart paid a visit to Corning on Aug. 26. Photo by J. Wilson
By J. Wilson
Free Press Editor
Independent U.S. Senate candidate Rick Stewart visited Corning on Aug. 26 during a trip cycling through Iowa’s 99 counties in support of his campaign.
Born in Postville and raised in Maquoketa, Stewart graduated from Phillips Academy in 1969 before tending to a life filled with family, education and world travel, as well as a successful business, Frontier Cooperative Herbs. Stewart retired from the $40 million business in 1999.
“Gradually, I got irritated with what’s going on in Washington,” said Stewart, who became interested in the 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
Stewart identified an inability for third party candidates to participate in debates as the primary barrier to election, and spent five weeks in Washington DC working unsuccessfully to convince the Commission on Presidential Debates to invite Johnson to the table. The experience “made me realize [that] these guys are not clever; they’re just entrenched,” he said.
Admittedly competitive, Stewart hopes to elevate the conversation surrounding issues during the upcoming election. “I can recognize a fight, and I think I can win,” Stewart said. “When Harkin’s seat opened up, I said, ‘This is a slam dunk. All I have to do is get into the conversation.’”
Stewart admits that this will be difficult. “I’ve got about as much chance as I did in getting Gary Johnson into the national debate. My chances are five to 10 percent,” he said. “But it’s not zero.
While many Americans agree that the United States’ $17 trillion debt is of concern, Stewart wants to force a conversation about an additional $204 trillion in unfunded national liabilities like Social Security and other programs. “It doesn’t take an accountant to know that it’s not going to get paid,” he said. “So what we should do is put it on the table and talk about it.”
Stewart’s second agenda item is to end the drug war. “They’ve never even won a skirmish; how are you going to win a war?” Stewart said of the expensive and deadly effort to stop the use of illicit drugs.
Stewart said that while immigration is a popular point of debate, he can end the problem of illegal immigrants almost overnight: “Charge $50 thousand for a green card,” he said.
Stewart recalled his experience in Central and South America when he said that immigrants can and will pay this amount to work legally in the United States. Stewart added that he wouldn’t fine or jail those caught employing illegal immigrants. Instead, he’d require the business to purchase the green card and allow the worker to stay and labor as they wish. “That is going to end illegal work on day one,” Stewart said.
Having served as a police officer in the past, Stewart believes firmly that demilitarizing the police is essential for public safety. Stewart said that one SWAT team could easily serve the needs of the State of Iowa.
“Ag subsidies aren’t good for America. They aren’t good for Iowa. They aren’t even good for Iowa farmers,” he said. With 26 percent of the best topsoil in the world, Stewart compared Iowa’s farmers to “Olympic Class” athletes in their skill level. “Give that Olympic athlete a crutch, and he’s not going to go faster or jump higher,” said Stewart. “It’s going to slow him down, and that’s what ag subsidies do, because they distort the market. You don’t make proud people by putting them on welfare.”
While wealthy farmers can easily spare their subsidies, Stewart said that even smaller producers pocket an unnecessary crutch. “If you can’t afford to farm,” he said, “ then sell it.”
Stewart didn’t expect that many would choose the option to sell, due to their resources and talent. “If you own land in Iowa, you’ve got net worth,” he said.
Stewart said that the United States is a nation of proud people, not afraid of a challenge or afraid to compete. Whether farmers or workers in any other area, Stewart said that strong competition is what has made the nation great and that the hunger for competition is what has brought him to run for the Senate. Before he can compete for that seat, he said, he first must be allowed into the conversation.
“Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst are not particularly strong candidates. They’re not imaginative. They’re playing the traditional Republican-Democrat game,” Stewart said. “If I break through into the conversation and they have to start talking about me…well, the Berlin Wall came down in three days.”
To learn more about Rick Stewart, visit rickstewart.com.