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Stewart stumps for Senate seat

July 18, 2014
By David Swartz - Managing Editor , Estherville News

An independent candidate is making a run at Iowa's U.S. Senate seat this fall.

While Republican candidate Joni Ernst and Democratic candidate Bruce Braley may get most of the attention, businessman Rick Stewart has begun a grassroots campaign to try to shake up the Senate race.

Stewart has spent the past week bicycling from county to county and plans to visit all 99 counties. During his current run, he plans to visit all the Iowa newspaper towns bypassed by RAGBRAI.

Article Photos

Retired Cedar Rapids businessman Rick Stewart is out bicycling to each of Iowa’s 99 counties to spread his message as the Independent candidate seeking Sen. Tom Harkin's soon-to-be-vacated seat.
Photo by David Swartz

"I'm not a politician, but a businessman," he said.

The Postville native grew up in Maquoketa before establishing himself as a small businessman who has thrived for 38 years in Cedar Rapids. He lives in the same house he purchased in 1978, a home where he delivered three of his four children.

He served briefly as a police officer in Maquoketa

Stewart started Frontier Cooperative Herbs, a national spices and herbs company. From a hobby, it turned into a $40 million business with 300 employees.

He has extensive world travel experience-before and after his 24-year business venture.

He's willing to discuss any topic with anyone from farm subsidies to the war on drugs to the military operation in Afghanistan.

Here are a few snipes of his views.

On the war on drugs

"That's the biggest waste of money ever. We've spent 1 1/2 trillion on the drug war and are we getting anywhere. People with a drug problem are sick, not criminals."

Concerning problems in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. "We aren't going to help them-they don't want our help. They do want our money. Let's not try to solve their problems. Terrorism came to us because we meddled in 1991. Osama (bin Laden) just wanted us to stay out of Saudi Arabia."

Stewart added that the U.S. doesn't need to be the policeman of the world.

Redistribution of income

"I'm pro-redistribution of income. But we shouldn't penalize people if they dare to work. We want to enable them to work and be fully functional in society. People should have a check big enough to pay their bills and then have enough left for a piece of the American pie."

"I have a lot of poor and rich friends and haven't had a single wealthy friend that didn't like the plan. There's no excuse for corporate welfare."

On immigration

"We have it backward. Charge $30,000 for a green card-that's $30 billion a year in straight revenue." Think that those crossing the border can't afford it? Stewart said many are paying $10,000 for a "coyote" just to get across the border.

On lawyers as politicians

"Lawyers are the worst people to be politicians," Stewart said. Talking of Obama care, instead of a five-page plan, it turned into a 965-page law. "There are 40,000 pages of legislation produced every year."

Stewart told a story of the Berlin wall coming down. A guy kicked at the wall and some mortar came loose. He began to kick at the wall some more and more came down. He went home to get a pick and more people joined him and the wall came down.

That's the kind of paradigm shift he hopes to create in Washington.

"I don't need a job or the fame," he said. "That's why I'm a great choice."

To learn more about Stewart, visit his website at



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