U.S. Senate Candidate Questionnaire
Address: PO Box 1361 Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-1361
Phone Number: (319) 360-3401
Email Address: email@example.com
Campaign Web Site: robhogg.org
Education Background: I graduated from City High School in Iowa City in 1985, and then attended the University of Iowa, graduating with a degree in history in 1988. In 1991, I earned a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. In 1995, I earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota.
Employment history: In addition to my state legislative service, I am an attorney at Elderkin & Pirnie, PLC, in Cedar Rapids (2000-present). Previously, I served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Paul, Minnesota (1995-96), and the Honorable Michael J. Melloy, then Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids (1999-2000). I have also worked for a law firm in Minneapolis, nonprofit environmental advocacy organizations in Iowa and Minnesota, and taught environmental law at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.
Elected Offices Held: I am currently serving my third term as a state senator from Cedar Rapids after two terms as a state representative in the Iowa House. First elected in 2002, I was re-elected to the Iowa House in 2004, ran successfully for the Iowa Senate in 2006, and was re-elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010 and 2014.
Public Service Outside of Elected Office: In 2010, I helped form the Cedar Rapids Watershed Coalition, a citizen-led effort to advocate for policies and practices to improve watershed and floodplain management to reduce future flood damage and improve water quality. The Coalition is committed to saying “never again” to the level of flood damage that occurred in 2008. I currently serve as co-chair of the Coalition.
Since 2011, I have helped coordinate an all-volunteer advocacy group called Iowa Climate Advocates working to educate the public about the dangers of climate change and advocating for climate action at all levels. Climate action means slowing down and stopping the buildup of greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere, and safeguarding people and their property from the effects of climate change. In 2013, I released my book, America’s Climate Century: What Climate Change Means for America in the 21st Century and What Americans Can Do About It, which has helped people across the country understand the issue better and take action.
I am a past board member of Churches United in Cedar Rapids and Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, a statewide organization seeking to promote a faith-based response to climate change.
If elected to the U.S. Senate name the top three committees you would seek to serve on? Why?
I have not made any decisions about what committees on which I would want to serve. As a state legislator for 14 years, I believe committee membership is less important than policy priorities and seeking results.
2. If elected to the U.S. Senate how will you construct your Washington, D.C. staff?
I would like to construct my D.C. staff with diverse people currently or originally from Iowa.
3. If elected to the U.S. Senate how will you approach issues of national security, liberty and commitment of U.S. troops to combat zones or war?
I believe the United States must be strong, smart, and engaged in the world to encourage peace and stability. I do not rule out military action, but I believe any military action should be authorized by Congress. I believe we should only use military force under these conditions: (1) a vital national security interest at stake, (2) a clear and attainable objective, (3) other non-violent options have been exhausted, (4) broad domestic and international support, and (5) an exit strategy. I believe we must be vigilant in identifying potential terrorist threats from both domestic and foreign sources. I also believe executive agencies should have Congressional and judicial approval for any electronic surveillance.
4. If elected to the U.S. Senate what will be your approach to consenting to the appointment of key administration officials including cabinet members and ambassadors?
I believe in working with the President to confirm people who are qualified. I would encourage the President to nominate diverse candidates who are highly qualified and reflect the racial and religious diversity of the United States.
5. If elected to the U.S. Senate what will be your approach to consenting to the appointment of federal judges, especially those being appointed to the United States Supreme Court?
Senator Grassley’s decision to obstruct the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is one of the key issues in this election. His obstruction is unprecedented, and I believe is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Every Justice who has died in office since at least 1910 has been replaced within 6 months and 13 days. Senator Grassley should do his job, provide a fair hearing and hold an up-or-down vote on the President’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Even before that, however, I was concerned that Senator Grassley had become increasingly partisan, voting against Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court and Loretta Lynch for Attorney General. On judicial appointments, I believe in working with the President to confirm people who are qualified. I would encourage the President to nominate diverse candidates who are highly qualified and reflect the racial and religious diversity of the United States. Having worked for two federal judges – one of whom was a appointed by a Democrat and one of whom was appointed by a Republican – I know that good judges do their job regardless of the party of the President who appointed them. I do not believe the U.S. Senate should hold out for conservative judicial activist judges who seek to take us backward on civil rights, voting rights, worker’s rights, women’s rights, or marriage rights.
6. If elected to the U.S. Senate what will be your guiding principles regarding trade agreements and treaties?
I believe any trade deal should lift up all countries in terms of labor, environmental, and consumer standards. I am also concerned about giving up our sovereignty in multi-nation trade deals, like losing our ability to require country of origin labeling on meat. I believe we can promote exports of Iowa agricultural products through bilateral agreements so we do not need multi-national trade deals like the TPP to promote Iowa agricultural exports.
7. If elected to the U.S. Senate how will you construct your Iowa field operation?
I would like to construct my Iowa staff with diverse Iowans.
8. If elected to the U.S. Senate what will your constituent services look like?
As a state legislator, I have worked hard to provide good constituent services. I aspire to helping every person directly or by referring them to another person or agency who might be able to help. Most recently, I have helped multiple constituents with problems that have arisen during the Governor’s transition to privatized Medicaid managed care, and earlier this year I helped a senior citizen get money back from the Iowa Department of Revenue when he had been mis-classified as an independent contractor. (This was featured in a Des Moines Register article, “’Misclassified’ Iowan gets back his $5K in taxes,” March 29, 2016.) I also believe in outreach to people so that people who need help the most can get it. For example, after knocking on one door, I was able to help a woman get her electricity re-connected for her medical devices, instead of using an extension cord to her neighbor’s property.
9. What are your thoughts on the filibuster and when is it appropriate to use and not use?
I believe Senators should spend significantly more time in Washington, D.C., actually doing their jobs. I would not allow 41 members to block a vote on a cloture vote. I believe if Senators want to filibuster, they should actually have to filibuster to delay a bill being considered.
10. How has your experience as an elected official prepared you to serve in the United States Senate?
During my 14 years in the Iowa Legislature, I have learned that government is not a debating society, or a marketing gimmick, or a popularity contest, or even a lifetime achievement award. It is a practical tool we have to address real problems and help real people. I believe I have been an effective legislator – in the minority party, in the majority party, and in divided government. I have priorities, but I also believe in working practically to solve problems and make progress. I believe this is one of the reasons why I have been endorsed by over 90 current and former Democratic colleagues in the Iowa Legislature.
11. While Senator Grassley and Senator Harkin had clear ideological differences they also worked closely together on issues that impacted Iowa. What are three issues you would seek collaboration with Senator Ernst on that impact Iowa?
I served for four years with Senator Ernst in the Iowa Senate, and I believe I can work with Senator Ernst for at least four years in the United States Senate. She supported legislation I floor managed for renewable energy, flood mitigation infrastructure, and criminal justice reform. I believe those are areas where we could work together in the United States Senate.
12. What term best describes your political philosophy and why?
Practical Progressive. I have priorities, but I also believe in working practically to solve problems and make progress.
13. What role should the federal government play in healthcare and why?
My two guiding priorities on health care are (1) expanding access to health care and (2) improving health. During my service in the Iowa Legislature, thanks to my presence and my support, we added 60,000 children to the Hawk-I program in 2007 and 150,000 working Iowans to Medicaid in 2013. If the President of the United States proposes a single payer system, I would work with the President to make the transition to a single payer system work. (As Governor Branstad has shown, health system transitions can go badly.) If the President of United States proposes improving the Affordable Care Act, I would work with the President to do so in a way that provides all Americans with health insurance coverage and health care access.
14. What role should the federal government play in education and why?
I believe the primary role of the federal government in education is to make sure that all children, but especially low-income children, have the opportunity for quality education from early childhood to college and job training. I support Head Start, special education and Title I assistance, and federal action to make sure that no student who is qualified is kept from college or job training because of economic barriers.
15. What role should the federal government play in economic growth and why?
I believe the federal government has a critical role in creating and maintaining a vibrant, full-employment economy that works for all Americans and creates broad prosperity. Here are four priorities for accomplishing that: (1) invest in education, training, and youth employment including national service opportunities for all young people; (2) support technology, research and development, and infrastructure improvements to create jobs now and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity; (3) use clean energy and clean water solutions to put people to work and improve public health and the environment; and (4) broaden prosperity by raising the minimum wage, ending discrimination in our economy, and supporting workers’ rights.
16. How should the federal government address illegal immigration and why?
For all the hot air we hear about immigration, Congress under Republican controlled has failed to pass immigration reform legislation. Congress is already failing to fund our current immigration system, creating a backlog of over 450,000 pending cases – almost three times larger than a decade ago. I support comprehensive immigration reform that (1) includes the Dream Act, (2) improves border security and case processing, (3) supports labor market analysis to determine the proper number of immigrants annually, and (4) creates a pathway to permanent resident status and then later to citizenship.
17. What should be the relationship between the federal government and the Federal Reserve?
I believe our fiscal policies and monetary policies should be coordinated to create and maintain a vibrant, full-employment economy that works for all Americans and creates broad prosperity.
18. What should federal taxation look like and why?
I believe in progressive income taxation – the more a person earns, the larger the percentage of the person’s income that is paid in taxes. I would be open to repealing some of the Bush era tax cuts. The question is not whether we raise or lower taxes. The question is whether we have the right mix of taxes to generate the revenue we need to make strategic investments in our country, balance the budget, and meet our national obligations.
19. Where do you stand on entitlement reform and why?
Some so-called “entitlements” are actually earned benefits, like Social Security and Medicare. Those programs have been extraordinarily effective in reducing poverty among seniors. Without those programs, our poverty rates for seniors would be around 40%. With those programs, it is 10% – still too high, which is why we need to protect and strengthen these programs. I am flexible in how we can strengthen these programs – such as better wellness programs for Medicare and raising the cap on earnings for Social Security – but I do not favor cutting earned benefits or health services.
20. Explain your position on our national debt, deficit and what you think should or shouldn’t be done about it?
The debt is a major challenge facing our country. Since Senator Grassley was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, the national debt has grown from less than $1 trillion to more than $19 trillion today. The annual deficit has been reduced under President Obama from over $1.4 trillion in 2009 to less than $550 billion, but Congress must do better. A vibrant, full-employment economy, along with fiscal discipline and progressive taxation, would allow us to balance the budget and begin to pay off the debt, like we were doing at the end of the Clinton Administration.
21. The federal government sends a great deal of money to states in areas like education, transportation and Medicaid. Should the federal government provide direct guidance and oversight or send the money as block grants and let each state decide how best to use funds? Why?
During flood recovery after 2008, Iowa’s ability to take action was hurt by “duplication of benefit” prohibitions under a federal law approved by Senator Grassley in the 1980s. “Duplication of benefits” meant that if private, local, or state sources would pay for something, the federal government would not. That meant that state and local government often had to wait to act until the federal government decided first whether it would pay for something. This significantly hindered our ability to recover from the Flood of 2008. Because of that experience, I tend to favor “block grant” assistance that gives flexibility to state and local government, rather than federal assistance that carries with it significant regulatory barriers to action.
22. We have seen members of our Congressional delegation over the years use their office to create unique programs and engagement with their Iowa constituents, especially young people. If elected to the U.S. Senate what innovations will you bring to the office?
In addition to what I said earlier about constituent service and outreach (see Question 8, above), I believe in engaging young Iowans in public service. As a state legislator, I have had a Drake Law School intern each session as well as numerous job shadows from high school and college students. It has always been a priority of mine in the Iowa Legislature to educate students about the legislative process and how legislation makes a tangible difference in people’s lives. If elected to the United States Senate, I will continue to involve young people including the establishment of a Youth Advisory Council.
23. Throughout our nation’s history the U.S. Constitution has been amended. Are there any amendments you would add to the Constitution and if so, what would you add and why? Should any aspect of the Constitution be repealed? If so, why?
I am not proposing any Constitutional amendments as part of my campaign for the United States Senate, except that I have said that if the Supreme Court does not overturn Citizens United, then we should consider a Constitutional amendment to address campaign finance reform along with other reforms – like full disclosure of contributors and at least partial public financing of campaigns – to address the influence of special-interest dark money contributions.
24. Presidential Candidate Martin O’Malley advocated national service for young people. Should the federal government mandate national service for young people? If so, why? If not, why?
At this time, I do not support mandating national service, but I do believe national service opportunities should be made available for every young American who wants them. Our current programs have waiting lists and people are turned down. Unemployment for young Americans in the summer of 2015 was over 10%, and for young Hispanics it was over 12%, and for young African-Americans it was over 20%. I believe that we should make youth employment including national service opportunities available for all young Americans.
25. Many urban and rural communities in Iowa face high levels of poverty. The numbers were alarming under President Bush and have gotten worse under President Obama. What should the federal government do or not do to address poverty in America?
Poverty is a real and significant problem. This is one of the reasons why I feel so strongly that the federal government has a critical role in creating and maintaining a vibrant, full-employment economy that works for all Americans and creates broad prosperity (see Question 15, above).
A Practical Progressive Who Can Do The Job and Who Can Win
By Rob Hogg
I am a state senator from Cedar Rapids and a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate to replace Chuck Grassley because I actually want to do the job and help make Congress work again for our people, our country, and our future.
Senator Grassley’s refusal to consider the President’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court is just the latest example of dysfunction in Congress. But it is not the only way Congress has been failing us.
After 14 years in the Iowa Legislature, I have learned that government is not a debating society, a marketing gimmick, or even a lifetime achievement award. Government is a real tool we can use to help real people and solve real problems.
If Congress worked, we could build — in the 21st Century — a safe, healthy, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable future for all Americans. We could:
- promote excellence in education for all children from early childhood to college and job training;
- raise wages and achieve a vibrant full-employment economy that works for all Americans including youth employment;
- invest in infrastructure to create jobs now and lay the foundation for broader prosperity in the future;
- protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare;
- improve mental health services and substance abuse treatment;
- reform our criminal justice system, end racial profiling, and “ban the box” on employment applications;
- pass comprehensive immigration reform; and
- take action for public health and the environment by reducing environmental pollution like lead and by promoting clean energy and clean water solutions.
I believe I am the Democratic candidate who would do the best job and has the best chance of replacing Chuck Grassley in November because:
- Iowans want leaders who can do the job – I have been endorsed by over 90 of my current and former Democratic colleagues in the Iowa Legislature, the people who know me best doing the job.
- Iowans want leaders for an economy that works for all Americans – I have a 99% lifetime Iowa Federation of Labor voting record, I support a full-employment economy, and I was recently endorsed by the Iowa Federation of Labor and AFSCME Iowa Council 61.
- Iowans want leaders for public health and the environment – I am a proven leader for public health, clean water, and clean energy solutions, recently endorsed by the Sierra Club.
- Iowans want leaders who can uplift our democracy – I have won five elections in a row, twice replacing Republicans, with positive campaigns that educate and empower voters and uplift our democracy. I believe I have the most potential to attract and energize new, young, and progressive voters and build the enthusiasm that Democrats were lacking in 2010 and 2014.
I ask for your support in the Democratic primary on or before Tuesday, June 7. You can vote early at your county auditor’s office. For more information, or to sign up as one of “Hogg’s Heroes,” please visit www.robhogg.org.