Lora Hubbel, GOP candidate for governor

Lora Hubbel, GOP candidate for governor

Lora Hubbel says she's running for Governor for the same reason I'm blogging: she just wants to "save South Dakota." And Hubbel and I may not disagree as much as you would think on what South Dakota needs saving from.

Hubbel says she was originally more inclined to save South Dakota by running for U.S. Senate. She was appalled by Mike Rounds's apparent opportunism and lack of true GOP principles. She was also put off by very similar aspects of the Annette Bosworth candidacy (Bosworth was the first ObamaCare doctor in the state, says Hubbel, citing Bosworth's eager fulfillment of the Obama Administration's electronic health records requirements, which Hubbel sees as integral to the ills of the Affordable Care Act).

But Hubbel talked to some friends and fellow pols, prayed about it, and decided she could do just as much good running for Governor against Dennis Daugaard, whom she considers an ideological clone of Rounds. Last year she thought South Dakotans would not elect a woman governor. However, voters she has talked to are changing her mind. She says she's received encouragement from cowboys, old codgers, and others whom she might have thought would be most resistant to putting a woman in charge.

Turning to policy, I asked Hubbel to explain her support for concierge care. In a weekend press release, Hubbel said the model of health care Dr. Merlin Brown is practicing in the Cities would help her kill the Affordable Care Act (which Hubbel consistently refers to as ObamaCare). But in our conversation, she said concierge care, rejecting insurance payments and charging patients directly for primary care at the clinic, could co-exist with the ACA. Whether we want to kill or keep the ACA, Hubbel says we can agree on the following benefits of the Brown model:

  1. Price transparency allows doctors and patients to shop around for the best price, lowering costs through competition.
  2. Payment direct from patients reduces paperwork for doctors.
  3. Rejecting insurance frees doctors to practice as they see fit, without insurers dictating what drugs and procedures they may use.

There's just one political problem with Hubbel's proposal: there isn't really any governmental barrier to South Dakota doctors' adoption of Brown's model of any other model of concierge care. Hubbel says a simple lack of knowledge stops doctors from following Brown's model. Win or lose in the primary, Hubbel says she plans to send information to doctors across the state about concierge care and bring Dr. Brown here to share his experiences and perhaps proselytize. Hubbel doesn't need to be governor to make that happen... although the bully pulpit would help.

Hubbel does see more direct action she could take as governor to stop the implementation of Common Core. She says she would simply veto any funding for the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment field-tested in Sioux Falls and across the state this spring. She'd tell her Department of Education to help schools develop cheaper, less intrusive, less time-consuming tests. And she'd find a way to change state law and allow parents to opt their kids out of the state standardized tests.

But then I asked Hubbel just why we need any standardized tests in the first place. She thought a moment (yes, contrary to easy blog punchlines, conservatives like Hubbel do think). She said Chinese kids beat our kids on tests, but our scholars and workers are still beating them on innovation. Maybe tests are just tradition, said Hubbel, not adding lots of value to our schools.

Hubbel wants to get rid of Common Core to give teachers the freedom to teach without following a government checklist (she says the same thing about the ACA and doctors). She also wants to get rid of South Dakota's embarrassing status of paying teachers the least in the nation. Her two-year-old grandson will be going to school soon. She wants him to have the best teachers, and she says we can't get the best teachers by paying them a pittance. She advocates cutting administrative positions by half and spreading that money out to the teachers.

Hubbel is more eager to share some more wealth with teachers than with the crony capitalists favored by South Dakota's current economic development policies. She worries the state will sell out the Black Hills to Powertech/Azarga and its uranium mining scheme. Hubbel says her father, a geologist, studied the Madison Aquifer and found it "fragile". Hubbel says given what she currently knows about the Black Hills, its water, an uranium mining, she would block Powertech's proposal (that makes two gubernatorial candidates against Powertech).

Hubbel says the EB-5 program is another example of South Dakota putting money over our better interests. She shares Senator Chuck Grassley's concerns that EB-5 investors are insufficiently vetted and that the program opens a door for espionage. Hubbel says the program is too corrupt to continue.

Asked whether she would take trips overseas to promote South Dakota businesses, as Governor Daugaard is doing this week in China and Mongolia, Hubbel says no. If a business is big enough to seek business overseas, taxpayers should not foot their bill.

Hubbel says government should simply stay out of business. The temptation to corruption and favoritism is too great. Under such an attitude, it's hard to say what would be left for the Governor's Office of Economic Development to do. Hubbel says if she wins the election, a lot of folks currently in GOED will be looking for different jobs.

I can't agree with Hubbel that South Dakota needs saving from the Affordable Care Act. But she could do much worse to South Dakota than promoting concierge care and transparent pricing.

As for education and economic development, well, dang, we seem to agree that South Dakota would be better off if we tested our kids less, paid our teachers more, and acted like free-market Republicans and kept government out of picking winners and losers in business. And Hubbel even agrees that uranium mining in the Black Hills is a bad idea. (Lora, I know some friends who might like to party with you and Joe Lowe in Custer Saturday night).