IA-Sen: Sam Clovis running, Joni Ernst retains high-powered consultant

Sam Clovis announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Clovis is ending his conservative talk radio program and has a sabbatical for the coming academic year from Morningside College in Sioux City. After the jump I’ve posted more background on Clovis, including the statement of purpose he posted on his campaign website, as well as highlights from his news conference yesterday. You can watch clips from his speech here, and he is on Twitter here. Many Iowa conservatives will buy what Clovis is selling, but can he raise the money to run a strong statewide campaign?

Meanwhile, Alexander Burns reported at Politico yesterday that State Senator Joni Ernst is consulting with GOP strategist David Polyansky as she lays the groundwork for a Senate campaign.

“She’s making all the steps necessary to advance towards a campaign,” said one Republican close to Ernst. “I think she has the core nucleus [of a campaign] in place so that, should she decide to pull the trigger, she’d be able to do so fairly soon.”

The Sunday Des Moines Register featured a guest editorial by Mark Jacobs, a former energy company executive who is also considering the Senate race. After the jump I’ve posted some bullet points from that editorial, which focused on next steps for Iowa in education reform.

If no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 2014 primary, a statewide convention will determine the GOP nominee for Senate.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Polyansky previously worked for the presidential campaigns of Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann, although he bailed on Bachmann a few months before the Iowa caucuses.

SECOND UPDATE: I keep forgetting Paul Lunde, who is also seeking the GOP nomination for Senate. James Lynch reports that if elected, Lunde “plans to introduce what he calls the ‘second Bill of Rights’ – 12 constitutional amendments that include making Social Security and Medicare permanent, changing the Electoral College, instituting a limited national sales tax and setting term limits for members of Congress.”

Bret Hayworth and Molly Montag covered Clovis’ announcement for the Sioux City Journal.

“We will bring accountability to the Congress of the United States, and I am here to tell you we will bring accountability to the imperial presidency we have today,” said Clovis, 63, of Hinton, Iowa, during a speech at the Holiday Inn in downtown Sioux City.

Clovis, who also teaches economics at Morningside College, said he’s running to defend personal liberties, restore financial order to the government and protect the Constitution

Clovis had a 25-year Air Force career and began teaching in Iowa in 2000. He spent five years at William Penn University and been has chairman of the Morningside economic and business administration department for eight years. […]

Linda Holub, of Sioux City, who is active in local Republican politics, on Monday said Clovis is the best candidate for the position.

“Sam is a man of wealth of information on the Constitution and conservative principles. For the Republican Party, that’s what my goal is, to have someone representing me with just such views,” Holub said. “…Because of this overreach in Washington right now, I can’t think of a better person to represent us.”

Holub said Clovis will benefit from being well-regarded in Northwest Iowa, where conservatives predominate among Republicans likely to vote in a primary. She said Young and Whitaker are relatively unknown, even among party regulars.

From Radio Iowa’s coverage of the Clovis event:

Clovis, who is 63 years old, lives in Hinton and is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who flew fighter jets. Clovis described his new mission as trying to flip “politics as usual” on its head. […]

Clovis described himself as a constitutional, “four-square” conservative.

“I’ll call out the leadership on either party,” Clovis told the crowd tonight in Sioux City. “…I just believe that we have come to the point where someone has to draw the line.”

Clovis supports the so-called “Fair Tax” which would get rid of the individual income tax and replace it with a federal sales tax.

“I believe in fiscal conservatism,” Clovis said during his speech in Sioux City. “We need to freeze spending. Not another nickel until the revenues that come into the government exceed the ones that we have.”

Running against that platform would be a dream for Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley. I can easily imagine Karl Rove’s crew intervening in the primary if Clovis is perceived to be gaining momentum.

Jennifer Jacobs noted that Clovis was a prominent supporter of Rick Santorum before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. Olivia Wilmsen reported for KMEG 14 that Clovis plans to copy Santorum’s approach to campaigning in Iowa.

“I’m sure my communications people will yell at me, ‘Oh my word! You can’t be so blunt!’ Well I’m sorry. I am blunt force trauma,” said Clovis with a laugh.

Clovis may be well known here. The big obstacle is the rest of Iowa.

“He’s going to have to make his identity and his political philosophy known east of I-35 at least. That’s critical because where the larger population of the state is at the moment,” said political analyst Dr. Rudy Daniels.

Clovis says he has a strategy to solve that problem.

“I think the big thing is to travel. We had a pretty good template in Rick Santorum’s campaign, which I was a part as you all know. I think it’s a good model,” said Clovis.

But the biggest challenge of all for Clovis may be money.

“I think money is a challenge for everybody in this race and I think that reason is we’re likely to have so many people in it,” he said. “People are going to sit on their hands until someone emerges. Once someone emerges or takes a lead, I think we’re going to see money come that way.”

Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican blog was impressed by the early signs of Clovis’ organization.

Although Sam Clovis is an “unconventional” candidate, he has entered the race prepared to focus on the important details necessary for a successful campaign apparatus. Volunteers manning the tables set up just outside the meeting room used signup sheets to collect contact information from each attendee.

Perhaps just as significant, the Clovis campaign already had ballot petitions on hand for attendees to sign. Smart move. Petitions to get on the ballot are one of those tedious details all campaigns must go through. For a statewide race, these can be very time consuming. Sam Clovis got a head start on that process by gathering numerous signatures, from several different counties, at his announcement event.

“We have a very strong organization,” Clovis said. “It will emerge. That’s one of the things we’ve worked on the hardest, to get that organizational structure put together.”

I enclose the text from the “About Sam” page on Clovis’ campaign website:

Economy. Security. Liberty.

Sam Clovis, currently a tenured full professor at a private liberal arts college in northwest Iowa, is originally from rural Kansas. After graduating from Buhler High School where he earned athletic letters in three sports and graduated near the top of his class, he accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. He received his degree in Political Science and a commission as a Second Lieutenant and took up a career in the Air Force that spanned 25 years. During his career, he achieved combat readiness in the F-106 Delta Dart, the F-4G Wild Weasel and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. He also served on the elite Project CHECKMATE team in the Pentagon and spent two years in the Middle East as the chief of the office of military cooperation in Bahrain. Sam commanded the 70th Fighter Squadron and retired as the Inspector General of the United States Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. He achieved the rank of full colonel and earned numerous decorations to include the Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and recognition for his service in the Middle Eastern combat zones.

Sam earned an MBA from Golden Gate University and studied at Georgetown University in the National Security program. He earned his doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama and then entered the field of higher education. Along with his teaching duties in Iowa, he lectures frequently at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He has taught at various other institutions including Iowa State University in the Masters of Public Administration program.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force, Dr. Clovis entered the private sector working for a series of companies in management and executive roles. He was a division manager for the Logicon Corporation, providing leadership to a wide array of capabilities including human factors engineering, Wargaming for the United States Air Force and technology applications for defense industry clients. Sam also served as an Associate with Booz Allen and Hamilton, America’s oldest consulting firm, Northrop Grumman and most recently as a Fellow with the Homeland Security Institute, a DC-based think-tank. He came to his current position in 2005 and has been active in Republican politics. Sam hosted a daily conservative talk show on KSCJ, 1360 am, in Sioux City, IA, and a program about faith and citizenship for St. Gabriel Communications, a Catholic radio outlet. He also served as the President of Serious Civics for America, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on raising civics awareness and enhancing education reform. He is a Catholic and lives in Hinton, IA, with his wife Charlotte and stepson Khan.

Why I am running for the United States Senate.

I am running for the United States Senate because what we are doing now is not working and the thought of sending someone to Washington to represent Iowa who will offer more of the same from the establishment of both parties is not what is best for this nation or our state.

I am a leader. I am not seeking the office to assuage my ego or to achieve a lifelong dream of being part of the power elite who currently “rule” this country-quite the contrary. I am a student of history and a person who has studied the Founding of the nation closely. Those men who sacrificed so much to establish this great nation should serve as role models. They served, and then returned to their private lives to pursue their vocational passions. Service to nation was a duty, an obligation, for which their fellow countrymen and women felt they were qualified. They served in a prudent manner, working every day to establish, preserve and build a better life for all those who might follow.

In the Preamble of the Constitution, there is a very important phrase, “…and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” It is this phrase that motivates me to take this momentous step.

As the saying goes, to which much is given, much is expected. I think this captures what our responsibilities are as citizens of the United States. We must do our part to preserve the covenant that exists among the people and between the people and the government. Unfortunately, this covenant is under duress today because of the abiding self-interest and indulgence of the establishment structures of the main political parties. How is it that we have drifted so far from the intentions of the Founders to circumstances today that have the ruling elite willing to sacrifice the dignity of their offices for personal gain? How is it that we have allowed a fourth branch of government-the administrative branch-to become so large and cumbersome that with each passing day, thousands of new rules steal more liberty from us and widen the gulf between government and citizen? How is it, then, that we have a Congress, and the Senate in particular, that seems ambivalent to anything but what brings most of the members in close proximity to TV cameras and radio microphones? Service to nation seems a distant priority.

Today, there are more Americans out of work than at any time in our nation’s history. Our national debt has overtaken our national income. We are printing money and borrowing from unfriendly nations to pay our bills. Our government is undisciplined and out of control. Yet, every citizen with whom I speak feels utter frustration and helplessness with the country as it is. We are lied to every day by people who do not think we matter. Well, I have news for the establishment-we are going to start sending people to Washington who get it and who will serve the nation and their states as was intended. We will only be able to turn this situation around if we are able to elect people who we trust, who we think are incorruptible and who will tell the American people and their constituents the truth.

If we are truly a government of, by and for the people, then we must take responsibility as the people upon whom was bestowed these greatest of blessings-life, liberty and the opportunity to seek happiness without the heavy hand of government resting on every shoulder.

I will always tell the truth, no matter how hard it might be to take. I will always work to provide specific solutions to specific problems and you will always know that I will serve with the utmost humility, knowing that I have been sent by the people of Iowa to protect and defend the Constitution. With my faith as my shield and your support as my sword, I will gladly wade into the host.

What Sam Stands For

It’s About the Economy. It’s about National Security. It’s About Liberty.

Excerpt from Mark Jacobs’ editorial in the June 9 Sunday Des Moines Register:

There’s other work ahead to improve public schools and serve our children:

• Hire a new director of the Iowa Department of Education. Leadership will be particularly important while implementing the elements of the new bill. […]

• Cast our net broadly to create a deeper talent pool from which to hire teachers. This is particularly important for our low-income neighborhood schools where, on average, children are two to two-and-a-half grade levels behind their peers in higher income areas by the time they get to eighth grade.

One way to widen our net is by modifying our alternative teaching licensure requirements, currently among the most stringent in the nation, so local school districts have the option of tapping into resources like Teach for America that have a demonstrated record of closing the achievement gap.

• Develop meaningful professional development programs. The education reform bill provides professional development to our teachers through a mentoring program. Additionally, we should provide tuition reimbursement for those who enhance their skills.

We also need to create a professional development program for our principals. Research shows that the single biggest factor in the success of a school is the leadership capabilities of the principal.

• Focus on reading literacy through the third grade. Through grade 3, children learn to read. After grade 3, they read to learn. Children who enter the fourth grade without good reading comprehension skills are at a significant disadvantage. We need a strong reading literacy program in the early years and must not move children on to fourth grade until they are proficient readers.

• Provide choice and options. No parent should be forced to send their child to a school that isn’t effective at educating students. For next year’s legislative session, let’s develop a model of providing choice and options for students and parents, and that includes changing our funding laws and developing a set of standards so that we can start an effective charter school program in Iowa.

Republicans will nod their heads at all of the points Jacobs raised.  

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