JOHNSON COUNTY– They’re outnumbered two-to-one, according to the latest voter registration numbers from the Johnson County Auditor’s Office. Their party hasn’t had a winner in the northern part of the county since 1994. But Republican candidates for the Iowa State House of Representatives, Bobby Kaufmann and Steve Sherman, soldier on.
And they’re getting some help from some pretty influential people.
Kaufmann is running for District 73, which covers all of Cedar County and six rural Johnson County townships, while Sherman is going for the newly created District 77 which covers the northwest, western and southeast parts of Johnson County including the cities of North Liberty, Shueyville, Swisher, Tiffin, Oxford and Lone Tree. Both men are receiving help on the campaign trail from leaders in the state GOP.
Matt Schultz, Iowa Secretary of State, appeared at an Aug. 28 fundraiser in rural Johnson County for Sherman. Senator Charles Grassley and Governor Terry Branstad have stood beside Kaufmann in his Cedar County appearances, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey spoke on his behalf Monday evening, Aug. 27 in Solon.
“He’s a hard worker,” Northey said of Kaufmann. “He gets out there and talks to people, looking them in the eye. Government is important, but sometimes government can get in the way. Bobby knows that, and he’s the kind of guy who can carry that message.” Northey told the capacity crowd at the Brosh Chapel and Community Center in Solon, “It’s wonderful and quite an honor to be here for Bobby,” he said. “A crowd like this will only make him even more passionate.” Northey called Kaufmann “a voice for you in Des Moines,” and urged supporters to get out the vote. “We need Bobby fighting and telling our story.”
Kaufmann met Northey in 2005 when his campaign for Agriculture Secretary started. “Within five minutes I said, ‘he’s my candidate,’” said Kaufmann. “Once I declared (the intention to run for state house), I knew I wanted to get him to Solon. It’s an honor to have him here on my behalf.””
Likewise, Sherman knew he wanted to bring Schultz to District 77. “It lends a note of seriousness to the campaign,” Sherman said. “I’m known by a lot of things, but not as a politician. So having Matt here lends credibility.”
“I’m proud to be here supporting Steve,” Schultz said. “We need more like him.” Schultz lamented what he sees as a lack of common sense in Des Moines. “We need it and I’m willing to support those who will bring it.” Schultz has supported other candidates around the state this election cycle noting, “People are starting to pay attention. I hope people can hear my voice and know I support him.”
Schultz told a packed room at the Steve and Jan Weeber farm in rural Johnson County that he knows first-hand what it’s like to run an uphill battle for office, and he knows Sherman is as well. “He’s working hard,” Schultz said. “He’s investing his time, so we need to invest in him. We need him in Des Moines. I believe in Steve Sherman.”
For Northey and Schultz, the stops also allowed them to talk about the issues of the day. In Northey’s case, the issue was the ongoing drought. He reported on the latest figures and estimates, and heard from Cedar and Johnson County farmers. “It’s been a crazy, challenging, tough year,” he said, with all parts of the state affected by the drought. “We’re hopeful it’s not going to be as bad as it looked earlier.”
Northey said there was still hope for 140 bushel to the acre corn, down from averages of 170 last year, but better than anticipated earlier. “We’re still going to be the top corn producing state.”
Schultz used the platform to educate people on his voter ID initiative and give more background on his recent drive to clean up the voter rolls. He said he learned that 3,500 non-citizens were registered to vote, and in the 2010 election, 1,200 of them voted. While he acknowledged some might have become citizens prior to voting, “I do not believe all of them became citizens.” After what he characterized as stonewalling by the federal government, Schultz invoked an administrative rule as an emergency act due to the nearness of the November election. His move drew fire from groups such as the ACLU; however, Schultz said 76 percent of Iowans polled recently support voter ID, and said Attorney General Tom Miller (a Democrat) is supporting his initiative to ensure only eligible voters are able to do so.
“Common sense,” Schultz said.
While both candidates spoke of their backgrounds and work ethic, neither used their events to directly attack their competition. Kaufmann spoke of working across the aisle, but Sherman took a different angle.
“Johnson County is full of tax-and-spend liberals, and we’ve got to stop sending them to Des Moines,” Sherman said.