SIOUX CITY | Nearly every day since the Nov. 8 election, Northwest Iowans Don Kass and Kurt Brown have heard criticisms of Donald Trump from people who contend the brash billionaire investor's views are too far out of mainstream that he should be denied the presidency.

Such claims from Trump detractors are playing out on social media and conversations across America and in Iowa. The venting, in many situations, may ultimately go nowhere. But when people contact Kass and Brown they are reaching a select group of people who, at this late stage, can do something about who becomes the 45th president.

Kass, of Remsen, and Brown, of Primghar, are two of the six Iowans who will serve as Electoral College electors to officially select a new president. Both plan to vote for Donald Trump, the Republican who carried the state on Nov. 8.

"I plan on it. (Trump) would almost have to murder somebody or something like that before I wouldn't," Brown said.

Coincidentally, Brown's comment was reminiscent to something Trump said in January 2016 in Sioux Center, Iowa, when he drew a big response for saying, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

The founding fathers set the Electoral College as the process to select the president, as a compromise between election of the president by a vote in Congress or by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

Each state is given a number of electors that matches the number of U.S. House and Senate members, and the political parties pick the electors. The electors will cast ballots in Des Moines and other state capitals in other states on Dec. 19.

There is the potential for uncertainty in Iowa, since, unlike in 23 other states, electors in Iowa aren’t bound to vote for their party’s candidates.

One Republican elector, Christopher Supra of Texas, has said he won't cast his ballot for Trump and he won't be alone. It would take at least 37 "faithless" GOP electors to prevent Trump from taking office, however.

Kass, 51, is a longtime chairman of the Plymouth County Republican Party and a member of the Plymouth County Board. Kass was a Republican elector in 2004.

Kass said the effort to sway his vote this year is much more concerted than 12 years ago, when he received less than 10 letters urging him to vote for Democrat John Kerry rather than Republican President George W. Bush, who also won the popular vote.

The results of the 2016 election are different. Trump won 305 electoral votes, well above the threshold of 270. But Clinton won above two million votes more than Trump nationally, which has prompted many Americans to argue the Electoral College voters should select the clear popular vote winner instead.

Kass said he hasn't answered the more than 1,300 emails, more than 200 mailed letters, dozen phone calls and numerous social media messages he has received since election day.

He doesn't have time to address that onslaught, and added that the outreach doesn't anger him. Kass asserted that the people who argue that Trump shouldn't become president are in some sense blowing off steam.

"They are writing and contacting me as a form of therapy. It gives them something to do in reaction to Mr. Trump's victory. I can kind of understand that. They are not going to change my mind. If it makes them feel better, that is fine. It is their right to reach out to me, being an elector means I am a public official," Kass said.

Kass also figures the tone of the contacts could turn in the final days.

"I suspect that the level of vitriol may increase, to the point that there may be threats. There have been threats (to electors) in other states," Kass said.

Brown has been contacted by more than 7,000 people about his vote. The minority of those contacts wanted Brown to vote for Trump, the majority have asked him to vote for "anybody but Trump." At one busy point in mid-November, emails were coming at abut eight per minute, and he expects another surge before Dec. 19.

"It is over 7,300 emails. As far as letters and postcards, it is over 100-plus. The phone calls, I have lost track," Brown said.

Brown, 65, worked as the O'Brien County Recorder for 32 years until retiring in 2014. He preferred Republican candidate Ben Carson a year ago, but has made his peace with Trump, saying he would appoint conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I am ready to reclaim our nation and get it back on the right track after eight years in the wrong direction," Brown said.

"There is no way on earth I would vote for Hillary."

Brown and Kass said the Electoral College system of picking the president is defensible, since otherwise smaller states such as Iowa would be outweighed by bigger ones if the total popular vote settled the presidential pick.

Kass said Trump, a mega-billionaire entrepreneur, is poised to be a good president.

"The main thing is that he is not a standard politician. You can say, 'Well he's a billionaire, he doesn't live in the real world.' But frankly, his experience in getting big things done in an efficient manner is what I think this county needs to solve the problems we are looking at right now," Kass said.

Brown said it is an honor to serve as an elector, which "was on my bucket list."

"Not that many people get to do that in their lifetime," Brown said.

Kass said serving as an Electoral College elector is like taking part in a large cultural national event, such as the 1969 Woodstock music festival.

"It is a way of taking part in history," Kass said.

Kass is the 4th congressional district elector and Brown is an at-large elector.

The four other electors are James Whitmer, of Waterloo, Alan Braun, a Norwalk physician, Polly Granzow, a former state representative from Eldora, and Dylan Keller, a University of Northern Iowa student from Donnellson.

Brown was also picked to be an elector in 2012, but when Democratic President Barack Obama won re-election, he didn't advance to take part in the electoral college duties.


County and education reporter

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