From WCF Courier
By Jon Ericson
Walt Rogers wasted little time staking out his place in the Republican Party.
He was first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2009, served his first term and was re-elected in 2011. Now he serves as assistant majority leader, has been identified as an emerging leader in a national Republican group and his name has been bounced about in conversations about elections for higher office.
For now, Rogers isn’t committing to anything other than the office he holds.
“I’d look at it. I always will look at opportunities and what doors will open or close,” Rogers said of his prospects for higher office.
However, Rogers said if Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen decides to run for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Bruce Braley, Rogers will not challenge him in a primary.
However, if Paulsen makes a run, Rogers wouldn’t mind a chance to continue moving up in the Republican leadership in Des Moines.
He said he has a knack for bringing people together and that’s one of the key roles in party leadership helping shape the agenda.
“It’s one of the things I’ve always done, even in my other jobs, I try to get people on the same page. I’ve already gained a reputation down there for being somebody who brings the conservative side and the business side. I do that pretty well,” Rogers said.
In 2012, Rogers was one of 17 Republicans around the country named as emerging leaders by GOPAC, an organization that helps train Republican leaders for elections and governing. This year, he was an honorary co-chair for GOPAC’s annual event in New York.
In those sessions he had a chance to hone his speaking skills. With a background in youth ministry, Rogers had plenty of speaking experience prior to gaining election, but found experts at the event helped him hone the craft.
He has consistently run on a campaign of “Smaller, smarter government,” a line that has been repeated by many other politicians.
Rogers was front and center during the debate over Medicaid expansion this year in the statehouse. He was in charge of the House bill that would refuse Medicaid expansion and instead offer an alternative backed by Gov. Terry Branstad.
“The health care bill was a big bill for the Republicans. When the leadership has the confidence in a guy in his third year, it shows the confidence people in Des Moines have in Walt,” said Willard Jenkins, a former Republican state representative from Black Hawk County.
In the end, a compromise was struck that would still take federal money to expand health insurance for low-income Iowans, but would incorporate some of the wellness aspects Rogers and Republican favored.
The legislative session as a whole ended with a bang, with education reform, property tax reform and the health care deal all coming together in the final days of the session.
“Obviously we didn’t get everything we wanted, but with a Senate that is Democratic I think we came out with a pretty good ending result,” Rogers said.
Of the big three issues, Rogers was most pleased with the resolution on property taxes.
“I try to tell people we made it more fair across the board on all different levels and we made it harder for your property taxes to go up. That’s what people care about,” Rogers said.