Government

Competing impeachment rallies converge in Cedar Rapids

Finkenauer not speaking for district voters, GOP asserts

Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa Jeff Kaufmann speaks Monday as supporters of President Donald Trump hold signs and call for the end of an impeachment inquiry by U.S. House Democrats. The rally was held in front of Democratic U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s Cedar Rapids’ office, 308 Third St. SE. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa Jeff Kaufmann speaks Monday as supporters of President Donald Trump hold signs and call for the end of an impeachment inquiry by U.S. House Democrats. The rally was held in front of Democratic U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s Cedar Rapids’ office, 308 Third St. SE. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — They agreed on one thing: They were engaging in democracy.

“This is what democracy is all about,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said Monday outside U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s Cedar Rapids office. He was joined by a dozen or so Republicans calling on the Democrat to work on issues he said Iowans care about — infrastructure, health care, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal — instead of Democratic efforts to impeach President Donald Trump.

“This is what democracy looks like,” came the response from across the street where more than 50 people participated in a rally organized by Indivisible Iowa.

Finkenauer is working on all the issues that Kaufmann mentioned, said Debbie Koopman of Cedar Rapids.

“She’s open to all Iowans’ ideas, but she’s not going to support Trump,” Koopman said.

Republicans gathered outside Finkenauer’s office for what they called a “Stop the Madness” campaign event. As Kaufmann spoke, they held signs calling for the impeachment of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. House Democrats instead.

Their impeachment inquiry follows a pattern, Kaufmann said. First it was Russian collusion, then special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and “now the Democrats come up with this bogus Ukraine,” he said.

Republicans are calling on Finkenauer to take a stand against the impeachment inquiry.

“We’re looking at a district that Trump won overwhelmingly,” he said, and he referred to “legitimate polls” showing Iowans think the impeachment move is “purely political.”

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Trump received 48.7 percent of the 1st District vote, compared with 45.2 percent for Hillary Clinton. Finkenauer, however, unseated Republican Rod Blum from the district seat in 2018.

The GOP questions whether Finkenauer is representing Northeast Iowa voters or rather Democratic congressional leaders, including Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, who are raising funds for her campaign.

The rally was part of a Republican National Committee campaign in swing districts across the country that included a $350,000 expenditure on digital ads, text messages and phone calls.

Koopman acknowledged Kaufmann’s point that Trump carried the 1st District, but said many voters are having second thoughts.

As she observed the chanting, sign waving demonstrators on both sides of the street, Koopman was nostalgic.

“It’s just like the ’60s. I love it,” she said. “It’s the young and the retirees. Everybody else is working like they should be. Like Abby is.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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