By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES ? U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley told a GOP fundraising crowd Saturday evening he believes next fall?s 2018 election will be ?an abundant harvest? for Republicans in Iowa.
Grassley was among the nearly 700 people who turned out for Gov. Kim Reynolds? first-ever Harvest Festival that featured barbecued pork, family activities and political speeches designed to fire up the rank-and-file Republicans she will need to win her first gubernatorial election.
?I have every confidence we have the right candidate, the right message and the best grass roots support to win the governor?s race in 2018,? Grassley told the gathering.
Reynolds and her running mate, acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, came into power last May after longtime Gov. Terry Branstad resigned the post to become President Donald Trump?s U.S. ambassador to China. Reynolds had twice been elected as Branstad?s lieutenant governor and served as a state senator and county treasurer before that.
At Saturday?s fundraiser at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, predicted his party would retain Iowa?s governorship in 2018.
?All I?m seeing is energy and pride? among Iowa Republicans, noted Kaufmann, who said it is a healthy exercise to have a primary contest for the gubernatorial nomination among Reynolds, Ron Corbett of Cedar Rapids and Steven Ray of Boone and he plans to attend campaign functions of all the candidates if invited.
?The liberals are unhinged,? Reynolds said in her campaign pep talk. ?They are out for us and we need to double down and do all we can. So if you keep fighting, I?ll keep fighting. Let?s keep this united team together.?
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, the event?s keynote speaker, said he and Reynolds are among a strong team of Republicans spearheading conservative reforms at the state level, but he believes Americans want to see similar results coming at the federal level.
?We?re tired of waiting and we want to see D. C. get it done,? said Greitens, starting with reform of the federal tax code.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, told reporters at the event he was optimistic Congress will be able to finalize a federal budget and pass Trump?s tax reform proposal going forward and then maybe revisit the health care rewrite once that action takes place.
?I?m willing to compromise more than I?ve been in probably 10 years because I see the urgency,? King said.
Grassley praised Reynolds for her role in pressuring the Trump administration and Congress to maintain the commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard and to provide a ?stopgap? mechanism to keep health insurance affordable for 72,000 Iowans who have individual coverage facing huge premium spikes.
?Gov. Reynolds can play hard ball with the best of them. That?s because she has a soft spot for Iowans who work hard to get ahead and to stay ahead,? Grassley said. ?She?s a bright star for our party and a shining leader for our state.?