Bill Schafer wants everyone in the Third Congressional District to know he is running as a Republican for the nomination. He is seeking victory in the June primary against former Congressman David Young, who lost the seat in 2018 to Democrat Cindy Axne.
“The attention that we’re getting from Iowans outside of political gatherings is absolutely increasing,” Schafer said. “We’ve seen a huge spike in the last 20 days now, starting with a particular gun show that we were at. The atmosphere in the gun show changed.”
Schafer said his campaign manager’s 14-year old daughter was working the show too and in the middle of it said it feels different. She added, “we’re gonna win.”
“To her point, after that, we’ve had a huge spike in Iowans contacting me through either social media or email or phone,” Schafer said. “They’re calling and, like (Monday night), I didn’t ask to come here. I was asked to come. I find that to be very powerful. We believe we’re getting a lot more attention from Iowans.”
Schafer spoke to about 30 people in Earlham on this particular Monday night at a MAGA Meet-Up event, just prior to a watch party for President Donald Trump’s rally. These gatherings are key to his campaign’s success since media has been hard to come by.
“The attention from the media has probably been consistent and it’s probably stayed about the same,” he said. “Which is not high enough, at least not enough to make me really happy about it.”
So, the strategy was adjusted from political events to simply gatherings of Iowans.
“We have an opportunity to talk to lots of folks, like what you saw in the room (Monday) night,” he said. “I feel like we get a lot of feeling from them that they want a non-politician, somebody who has done something else, to run for office.”
So far, so good. Schafer broke news on Monday night that his campaign has nearly 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
“I’ve got a very small, truly grassroots team,” he said. “My best friend, his wife, their kids and my wife and I, the six of us started last August and walked town squares, went into small businesses, went to fairs and then we started working gun shows. That small core, with me being present for every signature, we achieved the 1,690 requirement by our state about two months ago. And since then we’ve added several hundred more. Right now I can confidently tell you we’re sitting close to 3,000 signatures.”
The campaign has shifted to a campaign strategy that discounts both the media and Party PAC money.
“Not that we wouldn’t welcome it, and we welcome it whenever we have it, but our strategy doesn’t require it,” Schafer said. “We’re confident that our strategy will be successful without it.”
Schafer said the most surprising and disappointing thing he’s taken out of the process so far is how the Republican Party approaches the primary.
“I’ve been a Republican my whole life,” he said, “I’m a very conservative-minded fella. I’m pushing everybody to understand my constitutional conservative thought process. I enter this race as an outsider. I went to Party meetings with a positive attitude towards trying to seek the nomination. The Party’s desire is to back the fellow who lost the seat last time and not be forthright with me about what the opportunities are to get folks’ attention and to get into political events so people know there’s a primary — I find that pretty disappointing.”
There is a primary, that’s Schafer’s message.
“I encourage all of the Iowans in District 3 to take a look at the candidates, study the candidates and come out to the 2nd of June primary and pick the candidate who is going to best represent them. I certainly want it to be me, but come to the primary and pick that candidate so that we have the right person going into the General Election.”