Hardin County man running for office as Trump-loving Democrat to local party’s dismay

The profile pictures of Hardin County Democratic Supervisor candidate Brad Rewoldt and Lisa Lawler

By Ty Rushing

May 30, 2024

Brad Rewoldt, who recently changed his party affiliation from Republican, says his support of Trump will probably ‘piss off’ Democrats

There is a good chance that a MAGA Republican running as a Democrat on paper could win the June 4 Hardin County Supervisor Democratic primary unless longtime local Democrat Lisa Lawler can pull off a successful write-in campaign to secure the nomination.

The Hardin County Democratic Party thinks Brad Rewoldt is running for county supervisor as a Democrat in a roundabout way to boost incumbent Republican Supervisor BJ Hoffman’s campaign, though the Trump-loving candidate tells Starting Line otherwise.

“I wanted to be the first Democrat in Hardin County running for an office to back Donald Trump,” said Rewoldt, an Eldora resident whose Facebook profile picture features the Trump/Pence 2020 logo over a Minnesota Vikings image. “And I will firmly back Donald Trump again and that’s probably going to piss off a lot of Democrats.”

Hardin County man running for office as Trump-loving Democrat to local party’s dismay

Rewoldt officially entered the Hardin County Supervisor Democratic primary at 4:43 p.m. on March 22—17 minutes before the filing deadline. The Hardin County Democratic Party was not aware of Rewoldt’s entry until they read about it in the May 4 issue of the Iowa Falls Times-Citizen.

The county Democratic Party planned to nominate Lisa Lawler of New Providence as its nominee during a special convention after the filing period, which parties can do only if no one initially files for the race. Instead, Lawler is running a write-in campaign backed by the county party.

Lawler admitted the party did not do its due diligence, which is why they are in this predicament. She wants this to serve as a cautionary tale for Iowa’s other Democratic county parties.

Had the Hardin County Democrats noticed Rewoldt’s entry into the race within five days of him turning in his nomination papers, they could have contested it. But they missed the deadline and Rewoldt’s name will appear on the ballot as the sole Democratic contestant.

Lawler acknowledged that some Democrats have given the county party flack for not catching and stopping Rewoldt’s campaign before it could begin.

“Be mad at them for the scheme, don’t be mad at us for not catching it sooner,” she said. “Why would you even think that a MAGA Republican would run as a Democrat? Nobody would think that.”

Lawler, who also serves as secretary of the Hardin County Democrats, said a big reason they were caught off guard is that she spent a year trying to recruit a candidate to challenge Hoffman to no avail before deciding to run herself.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people about running and nobody has said that they can do it, so we didn’t think anybody could be running as a Democrat because [the] central committee would know,” she said.

Lawler planned to officially launch her campaign on May 20 and nominate herself at a special party convention later in the month to ensure her name would be on the November general election ballot; however, Rewoldt’s entry into the race changed the situation.

‘Why does everybody think I have to have an agenda?’

Rewoldt is unabashedly pro-Trump and anti-Democrat. His public Facebook page is littered with posts boosting Trump and trashing Democrats, including multiple posts accusing President Joe Biden of being a dictator.

 

Hardin County man running for office as Trump-loving Democrat to local party’s dismay

Hardin County man running for office as Trump-loving Democrat to local party’s dismay

One meme Rewoldt shared asks people to say “Fuck Democrats” and features a photo of Brad Pitt’s Nazi-hunting commando character from “Inglourious Basterds,” a subtle implication that Democrats are Nazis.

Hardin County man running for office as Trump-loving Democrat to local party’s dismay

 

 

He is also the admin of the “Make Eldora Great Again!” Facebook group.

Hardin County man running for office as Trump-loving Democrat to local party’s dismay

So when Rewoldt decided to run for public office as a Democrat, naturally Hardin County’s Democrats were suspicious.

“Why does everybody think I have to have an agenda behind everything I do,” Rewoldt told Starting Line.

Rewoldt said he planned to run for supervisor in two years but decided to do it this year when he saw the Democrats hadn’t nominated a candidate yet.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to get my name out there now and take it more seriously in two years,’” Rewoldt said.

Rewoldt said he purposely waited until the final few minutes before the deadline to file.

“I waited until 4:55 that day—deadline was 5 o’clock—I went walking into the auditor’s office and I asked them, I go, ‘Has anybody filed,’ cause if someone would have filed, I would have backed out right there and then,” Rewoldt said.

“But at 4:55, nobody was there. I go, ‘Fine, here’s my paperwork.’ I did everything correct.”

 

What Democrats think his agenda is

While Rewoldt told Starting Line his campaign is about building name recognition for a future supervisor run should he lose the primary against Lawler or the general election against Hoffman, county Democrats aren’t buying it.

“Let them think what they want,” Rewoldt said of Hardin County Democrats’ suspicions.

Rewoldt was a registered Republican for more than a decade before he changed his party affiliation on March 15, a week before the deadline to submit his nomination papers for the Democratic primary. Additionally, the earliest signatures on Rewoldt’s nomination petition are from March 11, a time when he was still a registered Republican.

Not to mention his incredibly anti-Democrat Facebook page.

“You’re running as a Democrat in a primary election and you left your Facebook profile picture with a Trump/Pence 2020 [frame] you dipshit,” Lawler said. “Don’t you think everybody is going to go right to your Facebook page?”

On social media and in letters to the editor in Hardin County papers, Hardin County Democrats Chair Drew Kloetzer has denounced Rewoldt’s candidacy.

“This is an incredible insult to the voters of Hardin County as they should be outraged that one of their fundamental rights as an American has been so utterly disregarded,” Kloetzer wrote.

“The Hardin County Democratic Party denies Mr. Rewoldt is our legitimate candidate and does not endorse his candidacy in any way. A voter who wishes to support a real Democrat in the June primary election and the general election in November should write in Lisa Lawler instead of voting for Mr. Rewoldt.”

Hardin County Democrats—including Kloetzer and Lawler—think Rewoldt is trying to boost Hoffman’s campaign by posing as a Democrat. However, they have no tangible proof of the connection between the two men.

Rewoldt told Starting Line he thinks Hoffman is “doing alright” as a supervisor.

The campaigns

Rewoldt does not appear to be taking his candidacy seriously. He does not have a campaign website or any campaign-related social media pages, nor does it appear that he has held any campaign events. He hasn’t filed his statement of organization or any other paperwork with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

The only interview Rewoldt has granted about his campaign seems to be with Starting Line (in a May 15 Times-Citizen article, Rewoldt declined an interview with the paper and said he would release a statement on his campaign that has yet to materialize).

Win or lose, Rewoldt said his goal is to run again in two years when two board seats will be up for election.

“I don’t know for sure which way I’m going to go with that one, to be honest with you,” said Rewoldt when asked if he will run as a Republican or Democrat in 2026.

On the other side, Lawler has been actively campaigning for this race.

“I started a Facebook page, I’ve got an email list, I’ve had contact cards made up and we’re passing them out and putting them up in stores,” she said. “I get an absentee list every day … just to make sure that we are capturing people.”

Should she lose the primary, Lawler told Starting Line she would stage a write-in campaign for the general election. However, that’s Plan B. Plan A remains the same.

“Win the primary on the Democratic ballot and then the general election ballot in November,” Lawler said. “That’s where my focus is right now.”

Correction: If Lisa Lawler had been nominated via special convention, she would have appeared on the general election ballot, not the primary ballot.

  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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