Libertarian looking to make mark in Ernst, Greenfield race for senate in Iowa
SIOUX CITY -- Some people who have lost three straight attempts to win Iowa elective office might be cowed from attempting a fourth.
Rick Stewart doesn’t have that mentality, as he pursues a seat in the U.S. Senate representing Iowa.
Stewart, who lives in Cedar Rapids, is running in the Nov. 3 election under the Libertarian Party banner. That was his party designation when he lost his q uest to become Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in 2018 and Linn County Sheriff in 2016.
Stewart has been a Republican, Democrat and Libertarian over his 69 years. In 2014, he ran as an independent for the U.S. Senate, the year Republican Joni Ernst won her current six-year term.
Ernst is up for re-election this fall, while the Democratic nominee is businesswoman Teresa Greenfield.
In an interview Tuesday, Stewart said in his younger years he thought a person seeking office could only choose to be a Democrat or Republican, then, “I just got more educated.”
He added, “The Libertarians are the ones that are talking the most about the role of government.”
Stewart said Libertarian Party views of having limited foreign wars and ending the so-called federal War on Drugs, through tough law enforcement measures, are readily embraced by Iowans.
“Our wars are endless. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 19 years,” he said.
Additionally, Stewart said he espouses the Libertarian stance of reducing federal taxes and cutting down the national government’s budget deficit. He noted that the federal income tax was added in 1918 to provide revenues for World War I.
“Income tax was a war tax. It was a way to pay for the war,” Stewarr said.
He has attended a few rallies with other Libertarian Party nominees in Ames and Council Bluffs. Stewart typically said he visits businesses for attempts to reach voters during the day, since most people are away from home to work.
Stewart is traversing the state in the attempt to get free media from news organizations, while saying 2020 marks the first year he will raise campaign funds rather than spending his own money. He said he might raise $20,000 by the end of October, for a race in which Ernst and Greenfield and their allies are spending millions.
Besides Ernst, Greenfield and Stewart, Suzanne Herzog is on the Senate ballot line as a no party candidate.
The Libertarian Party in March 2017 became an officially recognized party in the state, after the party’s presidential candidate in 2016 surpassed the 2 percent threshold required by Iowa law to obtain official political party status. However, that official party designation was lost after the 2018 election.
In voter registration totals as of Oct. 1 in Iowa, there were 703,336 voters with active Republican registrations, 690,251 Democrats and 12,710 Libertarians. In fall 2018, there were 11,843 Libertarians.