Republican presidential hopefuls are descending on Iowa this week as the GOP primary heats up. And while a number of state Republicans are taking sides, the top Iowa GOP officials are staying neutral — at least for now.
Iowa’s GOP governor, Kim Reynolds, and both of the state’s Republican senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, have not taken sides in the increasingly crowded GOP presidential race. Ernst is hosting multiple candidates at her annual “Roast and Ride” fundraiser over the weekend, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Former President Donald Trump was also invited but has not been confirmed as an attendee, although he was in the Hawkeye State this week for a live town hall event hosted by Fox News.
None of the state’s four Republican House members — Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson, Zach Nunn and Mariannette Miller-Meeks — have taken sides in the presidential primary either. Their neutrality gives them room to host multiple candidates over the course of the primary season — and potentially to benefit from the attention that comes with those events.
But other Iowa Republicans who are further down the ballot have taken sides in the race, mainly backing the two frontrunners: Trump and DeSantis.
Even before DeSantis jumped into the race, two leaders in the state legislature — Senate President Amy Sinclair and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl – announced that they would support Desantis.
Sinclair told the Des Moines Register at the time that DeSantis has “proven that he can do this work. He’s proven that he can get reelected and can continue to do that work even in the face of opposition.”
Trump has touted his own support in the state last month ahead of a rally that was postponed due to weather, releasing a list of more than 150 endorsements from all 99 counties. The list included former GOP Rep. Rod Blum and nearly 20 state legislators, including state Rep. Bobby Kauffman, whose father chairs the state Republican Party.
Trump lost the Iowa caucus in 2016 to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. But he went on to carry the state by 10 percentage points that November and again by 8 points in 2020.