DES MOINES, Iowa – The Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee unanimously re-elected Jeff Kaufmann as chairman on Saturday. They also unanimously elected former Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer as co-chair. She replaces Cody Hoefert, who decided not to run for another term.
During a press call on Saturday afternoon, Kaufmann said that while nationally Democrats hold the trifecta, in Iowa, the Republican Party is doing exceptionally well.
“Obviously, we do not have a Republican in the White House. Obviously, Republicans are not in charge of the United States Senate. At the same time, here in Iowa, I can’t think of a time when things have been stronger. I mean, we are at an absolute peak right now,” Kaufmann said.
He looked toward 2022 focused on re-electing Gov. Kim Reynolds, and sending U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, back to the U.S. Senate if he decides to run again.
Iowa’s U.S. Senate race will be crucial. “With the senate tied 50/50. Any Senate election, any place, anywhere, is going to garner national, and I think I could actually say the world’s attention,” Kaufmann said.
He added that he wants to see the Iowa Senate Republican’s majority expand to 34 seats, predicting they will win the special election in Iowa Senate District 41. He wants the Iowa House Republican majority to grow to 60 seats.
Kaufmann also wants Republicans to win all four of Iowa’s congressional races in 2022.
He said keeping Iowa’s First in the Nation status is going to be a top priority.
“We have a very strong first-in-the-nation coalition that’s building. And that’s something I think about every single solitary day,” Kaufmann said.
At the Republican National Committee’s last meeting in Florida, Kaufmann said the delegations from Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina agreed to support the carve-out system.
“Because within that carve-out system, we have geographic diversity, ethnic diversity, and it helps to push back on the on the argument, I think it’s manufactured after the fact, that somehow Iowa shouldn’t be first, because we are not diverse enough,” he said pointing out Iowans picked Barack Obama in 2008 and Ted Cruz in 2016.
Iowa’s First in the Nation status is in jeopardy. An app failure caused a delay in releasing Iowa’s Democratic Caucus results, resulting in the state party chair’s resignation.
Kaufmann said that the Democratic National Committee was partly to blame.
“Part of the reason why the Iowa Democrats got into the situation they did was because they had things from the national level rammed down their throats from people that did not understand the caucus system,” he said.
Kaufmann said he stoop up for the Iowa Democratic Party when they took heat for the app failure.
While Iowa’s status is uncertain, he said he didn’t think things would get worse but eventually get better.
Kaufmann said he would stand with Iowa Democrats, but does not want to say anything that could make their fight to keep the First in the Nation status harder.
The Iowa Torch asked Kaufmann what he thought was the likelihood of Republicans keeping Iowa first if Democrats don’t.
“We don’t have a lot of examples of one party, you know, going on one day and another party going on another. So by far, by a factor of 100. It would be so so much better for both parties to have their caucuses on that on the same evening,” Kaufmann told The Iowa Torch.
“That’s why you saw me doing last February, what I did in terms of helping the Democrats to stand up for what I believe were some unfair assessments of fault there in terms of how their caucuses went,” he added.
He said it would be much harder to keep Iowa first on the Republican calendar if Democrats don’t keep Iowa first.
“If for some reason they decide to not keep us First in the Nation or keep us a caucus state or keep the carve-out process. So really, I got kind of three battles; it’s a moving target. I would do everything humanly possible to preserve it in the Republican Party. I won’t kid you, though. It would be much, much more difficult to do it,” Kaufmann said. “And I can’t look you in the eye and tell you that there wouldn’t be some pushback within the Republican Party.”
Listen to the full press call: