The chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa will seek another term. Jeff Kaufmann of Wilton stepped into the role of party leader in July of 2014 when the party’s fundraising had dried up and a major U.S. senate race was just heating up.
Kaufmann helped turn party fortunes around and he’s pledging to fight “complacency” within the party after significant victories in 2014 and 2016.
“Outreach would probably be my most important job that I have to do in the next year,” Kaufmann, 53, told Radio Iowa this afternoon.
Kaufmann’s promising an “aggressive” tour of the state in 2017 to meet with “new” Republicans.
“I think they like the Republican Party. I’m not so sure they’re in love with the Republican Party,” he said. “I want to make sure I reach out specifically to those new voters, many of whom are Trump voters, and I want to make sure they know they’re being listened to.”
Those new voters likely have “new ideas” that have not been “captured” in the party’s platform, according to Kaufmann.
“I want them to think of the Republican Party as not a vacation spot, but a home,” Kaufmann said.
Donald Trump won 93 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Thirty-two of those counties had voted for Barack Obama twice. Dubuque County hadn’t voted for a Republican since 1956.
Iowa’s top Republicans — including Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds — wrote Kaufmann a letter on Friday, asking him to stay on as the party’s chairman. No one else has emerged to challenge Kaufmann, so it’s likely he’ll be re-elected January 28 when the Iowa GOP’s state central committee meets. Kaufmann, though, plans to begin fundraising later this week, to prepare the party coffers for 2018.
Iowa Democrats will be electing a new leader next month. Seven candidates are seeking the post. All seven will be given a chance to speak at the Iowa Democratic Party’s state central committee meeting on Saturday, December 17.