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Government

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann won't seek U.S. House 2nd District seat

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton
Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton

CEDAR RAPIDS — Wilton Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann has decided not to run for an open seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

Kaufmann, who is serving his fourth term in the Iowa House, had received encouragement to run in the 24-county district that has been represented by Iowa City Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack since 2007. Loebsack announced in mid-April he will not seek re-election in 2020.

Kaufmann said he was humbled by the support he received from people who encouraged him to run for Congress. But after giving it thought, Kaufmann said Sunday that he instead will seek re-election in Iowa House District 73, which includes all of Cedar County and eastern parts of Johnson County.

“My heart lies with the people of House 73 and my Cedar County farm,” Kaufmann said.

In addition to crop and livestock farming, Kaufmann, 33, operates a steel hauling, construction and demolition business.

“I feel my time is much better spent serving here in Iowa rather than in Washington,” said Kaufmann, chairman of the House State Government Committee.

His decision leaves Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley as the only Republican who has filed for the race. Others mentioned as possible GOP candidates include first-term state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa, who ran against Loebsack in the past, and Bobby Schilling of Le Claire, who previously served in the U.S. House representing a western Illinois district. Also mentioned have been Sens. Roby Smith of Davenport and Chris Cournoyer of Le Claire, and Republican Fort Madison Mayor Brad Randolph.

Democrat Rita Hart has filed for the seat. The Wheatland farmer and educator is a former state senator and was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018.

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When Loebsack, who carried the district 55 percent to 43 percent in 2018, announced his retirement, national political forecasters shifted the race from likely Democratic to tossup.

The 2nd District is one of 21 congressional districts nationwide that flipped from supporting Democratic President Barack Obama to backing Republican Donald Trump in 2016, despite a Democratic voter registration advantage.

In 2018, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds carried all but five of the 2nd District’s counties — Johnson, Scott, Lee, Des Moines and Jefferson — but the Democratic ticket of Fred Hubbell and Hart carried the district by 3 percentage points.

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

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