Iowa Republican leader worries about keeping new voters

Republicans in Washington must deliver on promises, Kaufmann says

Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, speaks Wednesday to members of the Westside Conservative Club a
Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, speaks Wednesday to members of the Westside Conservative Club at a meeting in Urbandale. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)

URBANDALE — Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann expressed concern Wednesday that new voters who backed President Donald Trump may sour on Republicans if they can’t deliver on campaign promises even with the party’s control of federal lawmaking.

Kaufmann told members of the Westside Conservative Club they understand the nuances of the process in Washington of getting health care overhaul legislation to a conference committee for final House-Senate action, but he worries new voters may not be as sophisticated and expect instant results.

“This process takes time,” Kaufmann said in discussing voter expectations that Republicans will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, build a wall along the U.S. southern border, reform immigration laws and rewrite and simplify the federal tax code.

“The risk of that is if you ask people to wait, there had better see some success at the end of it,” Kaufmann told the conservative gathering. “So there is a bit of a risk here, there’s no doubt about it. This is a high-stakes risk.”

The leader of the Republican Party of Iowa said he has “unwavering” support for Trump as an “unorthodox” president who continues to “extend his neck politically” to honor campaign promises. But Kaufmann lamented apparently there are Republicans in other parts of the country not as dedicated, which could impact the 2018 political “climate” for GOP candidates — especially new voters attracted by an aggressive outreach program last year.

“I’m worried about them because, in general, what they know is Republicans have control and Republicans aren’t doing what they promised, even though individual congresspeople and senators are doing what they have promised,” Kaufmann said. “ … The people that are less informed about the process, yes, I worry because it contributes to a climate that we’ve given you what you’ve asked for and we haven’t delivered.”

For many Trump supporters, the GOP leader said, the appointment and Senate confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court would serve as a major fulfillment of a promise made to voters during the 2016 campaign. And, he noted that Trump may have more opportunities to reshape the court’s makeup.

As a positive indicator, Kaufmann told group, the Iowa GOP is enjoying one of its best fundraising years ever for a non-presidential election cycle — which he said reflects the energy and enthusiasm within a party that had a past credibility issue that almost cost it the first-in-the-nation position in the presidential nominating process.

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