“I am not for sale.”
This is one of the slogans for Rick Stewart’s political campaign. He is an independent candidate for U.S. Senate and will be on the ballot with Republican candidate Joni Ernst and Democratic candidate Bruce Braley.
Stewart, 63, is biking through the 99 counties of Iowa and was in Clarke County Tuesday, Aug. 26.
Stewart, on purpose, doesn’t accept campaign contributions because he believes that leads to negative advertising and being beholden to the political views of contributors.
“I’m not a Democrat without a brain. I’m not a Republican without a heart. I’m an Independent,” he said.
Stewart said he’s more interested in having a conversation with people, and a bicycle is a wonderful tool for that.
“A bicycle is an extremely friendly thing, and it forces me to meet real Iowans,” Stewart said. “Every day I meet dozens of real Iowans, and I get to talk to real Iowans.”
Stewart was born in Postville and raised in Maquoketa. He has worked in Cedar Rapids for his entire career, except for serving two years on the Maquoketa police force.
He started a company in spices, which has now evolved into a business called Frontier Co-op.
“It’s the most famous Iowa business no one has ever heard of because our customers are all natural food stores,” he joked.
When it comes to politics, Stewart said a main priority would be honest accounting, especially when it comes to the deficit.
“If a business kept their books like the federal government, they’d go to jail,” he said.
His next priority would be the nation’s war on drugs.
“It’s the stupidest thing we’ve ever done,” Stewart said. “It’s the worst war in American history. We’ve spent more on the drug war than any other war in American history. We’ve had more casualties on the drug war than all of the wars in American history, including the Civil War. We haven’t even won a single skirmish.”
He said every time a drug king is busted, another one immediately steps up in his place.
He said letting the one million non-violent drug offenders out of jail would save the country an astounding amount of money.
The next political priority for Stewart is illegal immigration.
He said the solution is simple — charge $50,000 for a green card.
“If you want one, no problem, buy one,” Stewart said. “As soon as you buy one, you can work legally for the rest of your life. What does that mean? It means you can pay taxes. It means you can take the bus back and forth to Mexico instead of having to smuggle yourself.”
He said the catch to the green card solution is with the business employers. If an employer hires somebody without a green card, and the employer is caught, the employer must pay $50,000 for the green card. This would mean accountability with employer’s hiring practices.
Stewart lives part of the year in Guatemala, and knows how many thousands of dollars people pay just to get to the border, and not even know if they’ll get into the country.
In Iowa, Stewart said he wants to get rid of every ag subsidy — ethanol, corn, soybean, renewal fuel standards.
“All of those things are just distorting the market,” he said. “They’re bad for Americans, bad for America, bad for Iowans. ... It’s clear subsidies don’t help anybody except politicians. Politicians give them away like candy to get votes.”