When I started my Lt. Governor search I was looking for either a strong administrator who would add gravitas to my ticket, a running mate with established statewide political ties, or the type of Iowan who could go on the back of our state’s quarter. In the end, however, I decided I needed a higher standard.
The four pillars of my campaign are:
1. Creating efficient and accountable government
2. Restoring a world class education system
3. Rebuilding a prosperous economy
4. Leading, by example, a healthy Iowa
To accomplish the above will require more than simply reforming our current state and local government cultures. Systemic power must be challenged, privilege must be ended, and corruption must be engaged.
As a longtime statewide education advocate I learned few have the willingness to challenge power. Even questioning it is taboo.
State government is out of control. The growth of it under both Branstad and Culver was reckless and irresponsible and the current alignment of it is indefensible. Our 99 county, 947 city, 360 plus school district, etc…local government system is likewise broke, too costly and inefficient.
Current political leadership knows this but will do little about it. My administration will mandate accountable and efficient governance.
Education in our state is in ruins. The Culver Administration’s most recent official education report card found not a single one of Iowa’s 257 school districts with fewer than 1,000 students was officially failing. It also found urban education in near total failure. In Iowa’s 10 largest cities 32 of the 33 high schools are officially failing and 37 of the 40 middle schools are officially failing.
This fact has set in motion significant yet irresponsible reforms. Chief amongst them – mainly teaching to the tests instead of educating students and the placement of every teacher at failing schools in the pipeline to be fired at some point in the near future. Facts education bureaucrats and much of our state’s media ignore.
Now there is a simple solution to the above – opt out of No Child Left Behind. But state and local education leaders have not only rejected that remedy they have plunged deeper into a system that will eventually fail every school and school district in Iowa.
My administration will put our students, parents, teachers and taxpayers first and restore the greatness of Iowa education.
Rebuilding a low tax, free market and prosperous economy will also be a challenge. Our current tax code is weighted to benefit the powerful and crush working Iowans. Tax credits, tax rebate schemes and corporate welfare are provided in abundance to those that can afford lobbyists and well placed political friends. Industries like ethanol, nursing homes, construction are voted money while working class Iowans pay the bill.
Again, the solution is simple but courage to do what is right is lacking.
My administration will reject the triumvirate of prison-casino-government/corporate welfare stimulus and institute our “Iowans Stimulating Iowa” economic agenda.
We will also promote a healthy Iowa by example. Obesity costs this state $3 billion annually. Having lost ten inches off my waist this past year I understand the challenges and the importance of getting healthy. Government can purchase medication and hand out slogans but leadership by example is needed to inspire Iowans to get healthy and stay healthy.
My administration will provide that leadership.
George Washington said “Few men can resist the highest bidder.”
When I first considered running for governor my goals were three fold:
1. Create and advance a governance agenda
2. Engage and inspire Iowans to take back their government
3. Build a 99 county impact mechanism
This campaign is accomplishing those three goals.
As I ventured into our 99 counties I discovered something else, however. I can win. The odds are nearly as long as the list of doubters but there is a path to victory especially with Iowans only other choices being a sixth Branstad/Culver term.
That fact changed my Lt. Governor selection criteria. Courage, conviction, loyalty, empathy became the chief characteristics I sought in my number two. The very possibility of winning required a higher standard. My running mate had to embrace not only the need for reform but have the courage to see it through should I be elected but unable to serve.
The vision for this administration will be mine. A vision created through a statewide process that enlisted some of the best minds Iowa has produced. And my Lt. Govenor is committed to this vision.
In shifting the criteria I also adjusted how my administration will operate. If elected I will have a President-Prime Minister style administration. I do not plan on governing from Des Moines nor do I intend to have my Lt. Governor rooted under the gold dome. If our administration is to accomplish anything meaningful we will have to be on the road engaging Iowans non-stop. We will have to bypass traditional political power and take our case directly to the people while competent bureaucrats implement our vision in Des Moines.
I love history. The man I selected as my number two is flawed. I am flawed. I love the fact he stated when we first met he didn’t have all the answers. I’ve often said if I’m the smartest person in the room as governor I’ve already failed. We will be surrounded by some really outstanding people.
But we will lead and this man is a man with core convictions. He admits he does not have all the answers but I do not question his commitment to doing what’s right and he has long embraced my vision of reform.
When I looked at him I saw in him a former governor – a fellow trucker – Harold Hughes.
I liked that about him.
Rick Marlar is a very simple man, much like myself.
He served in the submarine service for four years. That alone speaks to his character. He has been a trucker for 30 years, is a former pilot, and understands rural and farm life. He lives in Southeast Iowa, our state’s most depressed region. His is a resident of Washington County and lives on 40 acres just outside of Wayland, Iowa.
I met Rick last year and we developed a bond.
We don’t agree on everything but that’s okay. I know he will tell me what he thinks and what I need to hear not what I want to hear. I like that. And I trust him. Not only to be loyal to me but to do what’s right for Iowans including my children.
As important he shares a great empathy with Iowans and our current leadership and proposed leadership long ago lost touch with working class Iowans regardless of political affiliation or ideaology.
At the end of the day Republican, Democrat or Independent – Liberal, Moderate or Conservative, Progressive, Tea Party or Libertarian Iowans want the same things – to be safe, to prosper, to enjoy family, to have good schools, safe streets and equity from leadership and government.
A sixth term of the Branstad/Culver rejects these core Iowa values. No one embodies them better than Rick Marlar.