Aiming to get on the June primary ballot to give an option other than fellow Republican Terry Branstad in the 2014 governor race, Tom Hoefling is working furiously to get enough petition signatures to become a candidate.
Hoefling was in Woodbury County on Tuesday to get some of the needed 3,654 signatures by the March 14 filing deadline.
"I think we are going to make it. We can't let up," he told the Journal.
He described the need to nab more signatures in Woodbury, Warren and Pottawattamie counties among his final efforts. If Hoefling gets the proper paperwork filed, his name would be on the June 3 primary ballot along with Branstad.
Hoefling, 53, formerly lived in Climbing Hill in Woodbury County, operated a variety store in Odebolt in Sac County, and worked at a grain elevator too. He lives in Lohrville in Calhoun County, and for the last several years has worked as a political consultant to state and national campaigns. He described helping boost Steve King when he won his first state senate seat in 1996 and again when King won a U.S. House seat in 2002.
Hoefling unsuccessfully ran for an Iowa legislative seat in the 1990s.
Hoefling said he represents the tea party wing who want a choice beyond the five-term governor.
"I have a history of being a consistent conservative. I don't compromise on the core principles... I think I can bring the Republican base together," Hoefling said.
Branstad isn't conservative enough, in Hoefling's view. He doesn't like that the state joined the Common Core national educational initiative (Branstad in October 2013 issued an executive order ensuring local control in determining Iowa Core’s state academic standards and assessments), and contends Branstad hasn't led enough on social issues such as abortion and in boosting traditional marriage.
"Abortion on demand continues," Hoefling said. "I want to see real action to end this abortion holocaust."
He discussed two big changes that should come to Iowa: changing the funding for eduction in order to return to "true local control" and abolishing the state income tax.
Hoefling, who home-schooled his children and supports school options beyond public school, said local control is lost when property taxes go to the state budget and get placed as revenues in the state's education-funding formula.
"Basically, I want to get the state out of the education business," he said.
He said removing the income tax would be the best way to improve the state's business climate.
"What passes for economic development now is just crony capitalism," Hoefling said.
Hoefling conceded his candidacy faces challenges in going up against a longtime popular governor. In a late February Public Policy Polling result, Hoefling has 12 percent name recognition.
"Primarily, the Republican hierarchy has ignored us," Hoefling said.
"This is a completely grassroots effort...We have no money. It is being driven by people who want a new direction for our state," Hoefling said.