CEDAR RAPIDS — Greg Hughes, an independent candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District, calls for a common-sense approach to government.
At the same time, the Quaker employee and former Tae Kwon Do instructor who was nominated by petition, is in the race to win.
Hughes, 55, is best known for his work promoting fathers’ rights. He’s battled Iowa’s child support recovery system and courts for years. He claims some small measure of success but has a library of stories from parents — mostly men — who believe the courts and state Department of Human Services discriminate against them in child support cases.
Hughes, a divorced father of three, talks about a veteran who was jailed for being $600 behind in child support payments — after he caught up on what he owed. Then there was a woman who lost her driver’s license because she was $380 behind on keeping her child support current.
“This is what I’m out fighting against,” Hughes said.
He’s put $10,000 of his own money into the campaign “because it means so much to me.”
He’d like to see Iowa follow Minnesota’s example of taking the process of determining how much a non-custodial parent should pay in child support out of the hands of judges and human services.
There, he said, the parent goes online, plugs in the relevant income numbers “and that’s what you pay.”
As a result, there’s a higher percentage of people staying current on their child support payments, according to Hughes. Also, the costs are much lower than in Iowa where “you can spend days in court talking about how much you’ll pay.”
“I’m not a smart man, but when someone has done something that’s proven to work, I think we should try it,” he said.
As a member of the Iowa Supreme Court’s Iowa Child Support Advisory Committee for nearly five years, Hughes has advocated for a fairer, less costly child support system without gender bias.
Despite his work on the Supreme Court’s committee, Hughes is no fan of the courts or judges. He believes most of the problems people face link back to the courts and the bar.
“We have judges sleeping at the bench,” he said. This is what we’re up against.”
In his race for the U.S. House, Hughes is up against two attorneys — Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, and Ben Lange, an Independence Republican.
He has no experience in elected office but finished third in a 13-way race for Cedar Rapids street commissioner 19 years ago and also ran for governor in 2010. He received just 3,884 votes but is proud that he spent only $1-a-vote compared with the $14-a-vote Republican Terry Branstad spent to get elected.
“I don’t think I did bad,” Hughes said.
Despite the long odds he’s up against, including being outspent by millions of dollars, Hughes retains his optimism.
“I actually hope to win,” he said.
For more on Hughes, go here