A 32-year-old from Cedar Rapids is running for governor and, if elected, he’d be Iowa’s youngest chief executive.
Christian Fong says he’s not in the exploratory phase like two other Republican candidates. Fong became a 2010 candidate for governor as of Tuesday, June 30, 2009, when he sent a “Tweet” out on Twitter, a social networking site on the Internet.
“I know what I need to do. I know what the state needs and this isn’t a question of what’s in this for me or how easy is this going to be. This is a matter of I see a need,” Fong says. “I see a state that is drifting off course through the policies sometimes coming out of Des Moines and I am committed to doing everything that I can do to turn that around.”
Fong is the son of a Chinese immigrant who escaped communism to pursue the American dream, married a Midwesterner and settled in western Iowa.
“Now that I’ve got my own kids, I’ve got neighbors that I care for. I’ve got a city that I’ve cared for through disaster recovery over the past year. In my own generation and the next one, I want to see that dream restored. I see it slipping away, sometimes being actively torn away by policies, by a government that starts to lose touch with its own people.”
After graduating from Underwood High School at the age of 16, Fong graduated from Creighton University at the age of 19. Fong, who holds a master’s degree from Dartmouth, has lived and worked in Cedar Rapids since 1997. Fong has been the C.E.O. of an organization leading flood recovery efforts in Cedar Rapids.
Fong has not held elected office, and he dismisses the idea his youth will be an issue.
“I don’t think identifying and solving a problem has a minimum age requirement,” Fong says. “…You know, there are times when life has put me flat on my back and I’ve had to learn to stand up and I’ve brushed myself off. I’ve got the life experiences that understand what Iowa families are going through right now.”
Fong, who works as a AEGON in Cedar Rapids as head of real estate capital markets, was appointed by Democratic Governor Culver to the Generation Iowa Commission in 2007. Now, Fong hopes to deny Culver a second term in office.
“‘Experienced politicians’ have guided us into a situation with a billion dollar budget. ‘Experienced politicians’ are trying to borrow their way out of a recession. (It’s) ‘experienced politicians’ that have denied Iowans the right to simply vote on defining marriage,” Fong says. “If it’s experience that people want, I bring the kind of experience to the table that regular, hard-working Iowans can relate to.”
Earlier this spring in a speech at the statehouse during a public hearing, Fong said he was not a “partisan.” Fong says he has friends on both sides of the aisle and he considers “coalition building” as his strong suit.
“If Iowa wants somebody that has spent the last 10 years, 15 years just living within their party, just soaking in the ideas that come out of one faction of Iowa, I’m probably not the guy,” Fong says, with a laugh. “…I have friends across the aisle that we share ideas with each other and we find common causes that rise above party labels.”
Fong has contributed to two Democrats who were running for the legislature in 2008 and while Fong says in hindsight, the $150 he contributed to their campaigns was a mistake, Fong says Iowans like people who are loyal to their friends and neighbors.
Listen to his entire interview with Radio Iowa by clicking on the audio link below. Read more about Fong on The Blog .
Governor Terry Branstad took office when he was 35 years old and he holds the titles of youngest governor and longest-serving governor in Iowa history. Branstad served as governor for 16 years.