DES MOINES — Political observers looking at potential challengers to Iowa 2nd District Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack may have the right family, but the wrong generation.
Recently Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann was among those listed as a possible 2018 challenger. However, it’s his son, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, who is considering the race.
“I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m not ready launch an exploratory committee,” the younger Kaufmann said, adding that he thinks most of the 150 members of the Iowa Legislature have entertained thoughts of higher office.
He’s not ready to commit to the race and thinks he has until the end of the year before he has to make a decision.
Among others considered as potential candidates are Jeff Kaufmann, Sens. Roby Smith of Davenport and Mark Lofgren of Muscatine, and Gov. Terry Branstad’s chief of staff Michael Bousselot.
Kaufmann doesn’t expect to see much activity until after the legislative session. His father is busy with party activities while the legislators and Bousselot are busy with legislative issues.
“Fifty percent of me is public servant, but the other 50 percent of me is very strong farmer,” Kaufmann said. “I dearly love my farm and you can’t be a congressman and a farmer … and put in the amount of time (farming) that I like to put in.”
Chris Peters, a Coralville physician, who ran against Loebsack in 2016, is in the “very early stages” of discussions with an exploratory committee and others about running again in 2018, according to the Burlington Hawk Eye.
“I have high regards for Dr. Peters. If he runs, it would definitely impact people’s decision, including mine,” Kaufmann said.
Kaufmann believes he would offer a strong contrast to Loebsack, who he said is “very good at keeping in touch with constituents,” but has accomplished little since being elected in 2006.
“You can’t point to things and say Congressman Loebsack got that done,” Kaufmann said.
In contrast, Kaufmann pointed to a handful of things he has done in his five years in the House. Among them are defending property rights from unjustified use of eminent domain, never voting for a budget that was not balanced, being an original sponsor of legislation approved this week to expand insurance coverage of autism, protecting elders from abuse and including pets in protective orders so people don’t stay in abusive relationships to protect their pets.
Kaufmann is confident he could raise enough money to be competitive and pointed to his success in liberal Johnson County as an indicator that he could be competitive across the 24-county district.
He won 63 percent of the vote in the six Johnson County townships that make up about one-third of his district. He ran unopposed in 2016 after defeating Solon businessman Dick Schwab in his initial race.
“That’s something Gov. Terry Branstad hasn’t been able to do,” Kaufmann said. 33 percent of the district is in Johnson County. “The fact that I was able to achieve that kind of success in Johnson County would make me a formidable candidate.”
Loebsack received 65 percent of the vote in Johnson County last year.