Iowa GOP chair says new report critical step to keeping caucuses first

Republicans caucus at Muscatine High School in Feb. 2020. [file photo]

By O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa
The Iowa GOP’s chairman says a national panel he’s been leading is unanimously backing a report that would secure First-In-The-Nation status for the Iowa Republican Party’s Caucuses in 2024.

“Our very, very critical first step couldn’t have turned out better,” said Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann, who’s been chairman of the national party’s Presidential Nominating Process Committee.

Kaufmann said the group reviewed “all” options for rearranging the timing of presidential primaries and caucuses, but the final report recommends that no changes be made.

“That, de facto, would leave Iowa as First-in-the-Nation,” Kaufmann said.

The report will be presented to the Republican National Committee this summer. Kaufmann said he’s hopeful GOP leaders from other states will ratify the plan to have Iowa Caucuses first, followed by New Hampshire’s Primary and contests in Nevada and South Carolina — but he’s not taking it for granted.

“Our lobbying efforts and our explanation and education efforts to the RNC and to the Rules Committee, I’m going to handle this like we’re behind by about 30 votes right now,” Kaufmann said.

Last weekend, a group of Democratic National Committee members discussed changes to their presidential nominating process and aired complaints about the caucus process. Kaufmann said he has “full faith” in Iowa Democratic Party leaders who are making the case that their party’s Caucuses should remain first in 2024.

“It is important that we start out in a small state. It is important that the Midwest has a voice,” Kaufmann said. “…If you bring Nevada and South Carolina and New Hampshire and Iowa together, we check all the boxes whether it’s geographic diversity, philosophical diversity, ethnic diversity.”

Kaufmann is at his eastern Iowa farm and has participated remotely in this week’s Republican National Committee gathering in Utah. Kaufmann supports the party’s decision to censure Wyoming Congresswoman Lynn Cheney and Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

“Look, we are a team and Kinzinger and Cheney were using the fact that they were Republicans to gain attention for criticizing other Republicans,” Kaufmann said.

The two have joined House Democrats’ investigation of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Kaufmann described that as “weaponizing” their status as Republicans.

“Now, if you want to go after Trump, if you want to go after decisions that were made, you have every right to do that. I don’t have a problem with that,” Kaufmann said, “but if you are using the very party label to go after members of that party, I don’t think that’s the appropriate use — then don’t belong to that party.”

In a written statement, Cheney said Republicans have made themselves “willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon January 6th defendants” who’ve been charged with serious crimes. Kinzinger said Republican leaders have allowed “conspiracies and toxic tribalism” to guide their decision making.