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July 24th, 2009

Gubernatorial Op-Ed: Christian Fong

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Written by: Craig Robinson

fong-handsBy Christian Fong,

I am running for Governor, passionate to restore the Iowa Dream. That dream is slipping away under the weight of government. It is slipping away as state government stops reflecting the values of most of Iowa’s citizens. Restoration begins with the selection of a Governor who will provide strong leadership, have a commitment to integrity and hard work, and be willing to stand strong for conservative principles. I would be such a Governor.

My passion for Iowa was born within a family who understands just how special Iowa is. My father escaped from Communist China as his family was martyred for their Christian faith, or for being business owners. From afar, he heard of this Land of Opportunity. When he came to America in 1963, as a legal immigrant, he was chasing the American dream. He embraced what it stands for – freedom, opportunity, responsibility to oneself and one’s community, a commitment and loyalty to neighbors, regardless of what they look like. Those stood in stark contrast to what he left behind. He embraced the American dream. Then, right here in Iowa, the American dream embraced him.

I call it the Iowa Dream, because those values are the bedrock of our state. My own life is a testament to how those strong values can allow someone to advance from humble beginnings, to lead and serve in his community and business.

I grew up as the fourth of eight kids, in lean times not unlike today. Yes, I was sometimes on free-and-reduced lunch programs, but it was anything but a poor upbringing. My parents, and my community (Underwood), modeled what it meant to work hard without complaining.

That work ethic got reinforced by working a paper route, framing houses and walking bean fields. And I had great teachers who raised my expectations of what I could be. I graduated from Creighton University when I was nineteen, and went on to earn my M.B.A from Dartmouth College. When my wife, Jenelle, and I chose to move back to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it was because we believe strongly in Iowa’s future. We’re raising our three kids here, because we expect they will be part of the most vibrant economic engine of the Midwest, in a culture that reflects the strength of the Iowan spirit.

I have spent thirteen years in the private sector, and am a business executive at AEGON. I have spent years as a community leader, serving on boards and commissions, and as the President of Corridor Recovery, helping lead Cedar Rapids through flood recovery. Whether in business or my community, I see how government is sending us off-course.

The Budget Crisis: The Governor’s decision to borrow his way through a budget crisis, choosing generational debt over fiscal restraint, is misguided. I would balance the budget, and would veto any bill that spent one cent over the 99% spending limits, or raided reserves to get there.

I am a businessman. I have made tough decisions to make payroll and stay profitable, while the “experienced” political leaders spend, grow the reach of the state and expect hard-working Iowans to shoulder the yoke of not just big government, but bad government. It must end.

Bloated cost of Government: The cost of state government is growing at an out-of-control pace. I would shrink the size of government by 5% in my first year. On Day One, I would sign an executive order ending the spending of taxpayer dollars to fund lobbyists. Those lobbyists come back and ask for even more taxpayer money! That cycle has to end.

I would stop outsourcing the job of negotiating with government employee unions. As Governor, I would lead the negotiation of future contracts. I will require them to partner with me to stream-line government and make it accountable, transparent and accessible.

The Marriage Amendment: When the Supreme Court overturned Iowa’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, I dropped what I was doing and immediately published where I stood. It took Governor Culver four days to decide to flip-flop and play politics on the issue of marriage.

My position reflects the values of most Iowans: I believe Iowans should be able to vote on a constitutional amendment on marriage. It is an amendment which I would personally support.

Disaster Recovery: I led the grassroots efforts to rebuild homes, get businesses back on their feet and keep my community focused on the priorities of its citizens. My wife and I even took a flood family into our home for eight months. All the while Governor Culver deliberated, delayed and betrayed the trust of my community by making the flood an excuse to grow government, build bureaucracy and play the blame game – rather than empowering people and solving problems.

I’m concerned when the Governor spends more on the bureaucracy of flood management than saving thousands of jobs in the flooded small businesses. I’ve demonstrated that I do better than that.

Celebrating the Iowa Family: Iowa is made strong when its families are strong. I would declare my first year in office the Year of the Iowa Family, and I would get out to all 99 counties to meet and celebrate the sort of hard-working Iowa families that make us strong. Imagine leaders that actually get out, actually talk to Iowans week after week, not just during campaign season!

On the issue of life, I am clear. I am pro-life. As Governor, I would defend human life from conception.

Sliding Standards in Education: The Des Moines Register reported that our high school drop-out rates are rising, even as our expectations drop for our education system. Did you know that our standards are so low that an elementary teacher could miss every math question on the Praxis certification exam, and still be considered qualified to teach our kids? I’d raise those standards because I believe every Iowan, rural or urban, whether public, private or home-educated, should have a world-class education.

Around Iowa, people are tired of politicians talking about hope and change. I invite Iowa to advance beyond just hoping. Let’s create an Iowa that we can believe in. Let us not just see change, but let us embrace restoration. Restoration of Iowa values that unify us together. Restoration of Republican unity to again be the majority party of Iowa. Restoration of common-sense government that is smarter and smaller. Restoration of Iowa as the leader of our nation – first in the nation in small business climate, community-based solutions and education.

My father found the American Dream in Iowa. I will not look back and say, “I could have done more to preserve that.” We should do everything we can to keep that Iowa Dream alive, both for our neighbors, and our communities. Jenelle and I have three great kids – Luther and Ty are seven and five years old, and our two-year old girl, Elsa. Like every parent I know, I want Iowa’s greatness to be restored for the next generation, so that their lives are stronger and richer than my own. Together, we will pass on a prosperity rooted in the strong values of Iowa.

I’m asking for your support as I run for Governor. Visit my website at www.ChristianFong.com to join our team.


About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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