Chances are good you’ve never heard of Republican presidential candidate Mark Everson, and he doesn’t (and likely never will) have the campaign cash to change that.
And if you are aware of him, your impression might not be particularly favorable. He ran the loathed Internal Revenue Service for four years under President George W. Bush. And his tenure as CEO of the American Red Cross lasted less than eight months, with Everson forced to resign because of an inappropriate romantic relationship with a subordinate.
It doesn’t help that for a person running for president, Everson’s electoral-political experience is “pretty thin” by his own admission.
But there are many reasons you should acquaint yourself with Everson and his agenda:
• He’s doing his shoestring campaign in Iowa right, pledging to visit all 99 counties. He sat down April 9 for a 100-minute interview with me, reflecting a willingness to go wherever people will listen.
• He plans to spend between $250,000 and $300,000 of his own money on his candidacy, so even if he’s not conventionally viable, he’s quite literally invested in his campaign.
• The six points of emphasis for his campaign include immigration reform that would include a path to citizenship for law-abiding illegal immigrants already in the country – a hot-button example of Everson not pandering to the more conservative side of the GOP.
• Those six planks also include two elements that don’t pander to any major constituency. He favors reinstating some form of the military draft, and he supports entitlement reform that would, for example, take Social Security benefits away from people who don’t financially need them.
• Despite that, his platform has a populist streak, most notably a major reform of the tax code that would create a 12.9-percent national sales tax and exempt 150 million people from the income tax. (Filing-jointly couples with income less than $100,000 and singles making less than $50,000 would not pay any income tax.)