DES MOINES — Fresh from sweeping 2020 GOP election wins in Iowa, Jeff Kaufmann says he plans to stay on for another two years to help Republicans keep the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat and to work with Democrats to keep Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Kaufmann, 57, a former state legislator who is now a Cedar County supervisor, said Friday he expects to run unopposed for the chairmanship of the Republican Party of Iowa when the GOP state central committee meets Jan. 9 to select its leadership team.
“I’m running officially,” Kaufmann said.
He said he informed the party’s central committee last Saturday — after what he called some “arm-twisting” to stay on — of his intention to seek re-election to a post he has held since June 2014.
He also said former House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake plans to seek the co-chair position being vacated by Cody Hoefert, a Rock Rapids chiropractor who is retiring.
Kaufmann said his goals for the next two years include re-electing Gov. Kim Reynolds, keeking Chuck Grassley’s U.S. Senate seat in the GOP column, continuing gains at the congressional and legislative levels and holding on to Iowa’s leadoff position for both parties’ 2024 presidential selection process.
GOP candidates up and down the ballot in 2016 and 2020 benefited from President Donald Trump’s strong showings in Iowa — moving a tossup “purple” state firmly into Republicans’ red column — and Kaufmann said he wants to “make sure we keep these Trump voters in the Republican fold” during the 2022 midterm elections.
“The president has truly enlarged our tent, and there are a lot of Trump voters that voted Republican up and down the ticket clearly,” he said. “That’s the reason why Iowa looks so red right now. But I’m not certain that those Trump voters would call themselves Republican yet.”
Some of those voters are registered Democrats or independents, and Trump has expanded the GOP base to attract Hispanic and African-American voters — gains Kaufmann said he wants to build on.
“We made a special effort during the elections to go after what I called these low-propensity Trump voters, and we needed them to make sure that the elections went our way,” he said.
“We want to make this permanent. We want to make this a long-range relationship. That’s not something you do three months before an election. That’s something where you’ve got to earn people’s support, earn people’s loyalty, and that’s a long-term effort.”
Iowa had rocky experiences with reporting the winners in its 2012 Republican caucuses and the 2020 Democratic caucuses, when the party’s highly touted app-based reporting system failed to work as expected.
Kaufmann said he wants to work with the new chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party to aggressively protect Iowa’s leadoff caucus position in a very volatile political environment — especially on the Democratic side.