Rep. Bobby Kaufmann highlights cannabis, bipartisanship in run for fourth term

Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican Iowa House Representative from Wilton, hopes to be re-elected for a fourth term in a run against first-time candidate Democrat Jodi Clemens.


Roman Slabach

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann poses for a portrait on Sept. 14, 2018 in Iowa City at the Adler Journalism Building.

Elianna Novitch, Politics Reporter

After serving three terms in the Iowa Legislature, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, hopes to be re-elected for a fourth term so he can work to expand Iowa’s medical-cannabis program and address Iowa’s Medicaid system.

The 33-year-old Republican incumbent is running against first-time Democratic candidate Jodi Clemens for the District 73 seat, which covers Cedar County and parts of Johnson County.

When Kaufmann is not serving as an Iowa legislator, he works as a crop and livestock farmer in Wilton, Iowa. Kaufmann also owns and operates a steel-hauling, construction, and demolition business in Cedar County.

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Going into the 2019 legislative session, he said the two main issues he wants to focus on are expanding Iowa’s cannabis laws and fixing the Medicaid system, which switched to private managed-care oversight in 2016.

“I myself am moving pretty darn close to full-blown legalization, but at a minimum, we need a robust expansion of our medical-cannabis program,” Kaufmann said.

Beginning in December, medical-marijuana products will be available at five dispensaries across the state.

In his three terms in the Legislature, Kaufmann focused on securing $10 million in federal funds for small-town ambulance services, defending private-property rights, advocating for education funding, and fighting for the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System to ensure retirement benefits state-employed Iowans.

Kaufmann has served on a number of committees including the Government Oversight Committee, Environmental Protection Committee, State Government Committee, Local Government Committee, and Ways and Means Committee.

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Kaufmann said his biggest legislative accomplishment was passing legislation to protect children in specialized foster care after two girls were killed. The Government Oversight Committee, which he chaired, added an amendment to a 2018 health and human services appropriations bill that requires kids in specialized foster care to be seen annually by a doctor.

“The system is now less appealing for someone who would have ill-intent on a special-needs child being treated poorly or, more importantly, killed,” Kaufmann said. “I think that the giant spotlight that my committee brought on that and the legislative changes we were able to enact subsequently [were my biggest accomplishment].”

He said his voting record has been the most independent in the state over the last six years among Republicans and Democrats in both chambers.

“I have been, in my opinion, the leader in the state of Iowa of fostering an environment where Republicans and Democrats can work together, because I think having that environment happen is far more important than any one piece of policy,” he said.

Kaufmann said people should vote for him because he can offer a perspective unique among other area incumbents.

“I think it’s important for people to know that eight people represent Johnson County, and seven of them are Democrats, and there’s me,” he said. “I think it’s important that Johnson County has a balanced voice. My top priority has always been working across the aisle and being independent-thinking, not just blindly voting with a political party or because a lobbyist says so.”