The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Some Iowa voters look for Trump alternative

Trump continues to lead in national and statewide polls, but many Iowa voters are taking the “up close and personal” nature of the caucuses to vet an alternative amid increasing legal troubles for the former president.
Cody Blissett
Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis walks with fairgoers during the 2023 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023.

Iowa Republican voters got a taste of who their nominee could be at the Iowa State Fair this month.

Former President Donald Trump visited the fair on Aug. 12 and casts a large shadow over the race, holding strong at over 42 percent of the Republican vote in the Hawkeye state. The closest competition, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, lags over 20 points behind the former president, in a Des Moines Register, NBC News, and Mediacom Iowa Poll of potential Iowa caucus-goers.

Some Iowa voters are taking the “up close and personal” nature of the Iowa caucuses to vet alternative candidates before the nation’s first GOP nomination contest, while others remain steadfast in their commitment to the former president.

However, Trump recently received his fourth indictment, which comes from a Georgia investigation into his attempts to alter the results of Georgia’s election in 2022.

He is also the subject of a federal investigation into his actions surrounding Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the certifying of election results. Trump is alleged to have used the Jan. 6 riot to delay the certification further, among other allegations.

Some fellow GOP candidates, like Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, have supported Trump during his legal troubles.  Others, like former Sen. Will Hurd, R-Texas, have blasted the former President for “running to stay out of prison.”

“Donald Trump is not running for president make America great again,” Hurd said during the July 28 Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines. Amid mounting legal pressures, some voters are worried that he won’t be able to fulfill his “full potential” and are looking for alternatives to the former president.

Last week, during the Iowa State Fair, hundreds of voters visited more than a dozen talks by presidential hopefuls — some looking to find that alternative.

Who do Iowans want as their next president?

Dorothy Sadler and Jim Sadler, of Cedar Falls, visited Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ “Fair-Side Chats” on Aug. 15 to hear from Scott. The couple wanted to hear more about Scott’s platform as they considered an alternative to Trump.

The Sadlers told The Daily Iowan they will most likely support Trump in the Iowa GOP caucuses, which are scheduled for January but are looking for a possible alternative as Trump continues to pile on legal trouble.

“He’s got a lot of baggage, he’s not going to be able to ever work up to his potential because the media — and the left — all they do is get lawsuit after lawsuit after him,” Dorothy Sadler said. “They’re just afraid, and I don’t know what they’re afraid of.”

She said she would vote for the former president again if he were the party’s nominee, but wants to hear from other candidates in the meantime.

Karen Maximuk, from Kansas City, Kansas, ventured all the way to the Iowa State Fair to hear Scott speak. Maximuk told the DI she was leaning toward DeSantis as a possible vote in Kansas’s primary but that she also remained committed to Trump if he were to win the nomination.

“Well, I’m worried because of what they’re doing to Trump,” she said. “I don’t know if he’s going to be able to survive what they’re doing. I will definitely support him if he can survive all this.”

Some Iowa voters, like Shawn Alhert, of Palo, Iowa, are steadfast in their support for Trump despite his legal troubles. Alhert told the DI he isn’t looking for anyone else but Trump to lead the party’s nomination and the country.

“He didn’t get to do what he wanted to do the first time around because he was fighting the left,” Alhert said. “He needs to finish what he started, and I think he wants to.”

Some voters seek strong moral message, unity

Voters who support other candidates are looking for a presidential hopeful who contrasts the frontrunners of the party — one who promotes morality and unity.

Patrick Anderson, of Ames, said he will support Scott, who he saw speak on Aug. 15, because of his “fortitude.”

“He’s got a moral background and foundation,” Anderson said. “He stands for all Americans. He’s got that same old-fashioned recipe: if you work hard, play straight you’re probably going to do OK.”

Anderson said every caucus season, he picks a lesser-known candidate to support because even if they don’t win the nomination or do well in the caucuses, they tend to “straighten everybody up.”

Ed Failor, of Des Moines, is the treasurer of the political action committee that supports Ryan Binkley, a Texas pastor and businessman. He said he supports Binkley because of his ability to reach across the aisle and his Christian conservative message.

He said he used to be able to be great friends with Democrats and talk politics, but that isn’t the case anymore.

“I just [long] for the country to be [less polarized] again,” Failor said. “Yes, the party in power is going to get most of their way certainly, but there has to be a unified country. And that’s the part of his message that needs to be heard, and I think will resonate with people.”

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.