Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa

Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa

Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Bill Maher defends Bernie Sanders campaign over sexual harassment allegations Americans need an economy that supports more than the 1 percent MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Women's March expecting smaller crowds amid controversy over alleged anti-Semitism Kamala Harris picks Baltimore as headquarters for potential 2020 campaign: report MORE (D-Calif.) will be in Iowa over the next few days to campaign for Democratic candidates, giving them a chance to distinguish themselves in front of voters in a state that will hold the first-in-the-nation caucuses in February 2020.

The two high-profile senators will be in the Hawkeye State to campaign for Democrats running for congressional seats and state offices in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. While neither lawmaker has announced they will run for president, the visits put them in front of voters who will play a crucial role in shaping the 2020 primaries.

“This is the time when you have to begin to come to Iowa,” said Iowa State University political science professor Steffen Schmidt, adding that candidates “have to capture a good number of Democrats who will be attending the caucuses.”

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Having a strong organization is important to succeed in the caucuses, he said, since candidates need people to show up and support them in every precinct.

The visits by Sanders and Harris are part of broader efforts to campaign for Democrats in the midterms. Iowa is part of a nine-state tour for Sanders, and Harris will be there after stops in South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Sanders is scheduled to be in Iowa on Saturday and Sunday. He will campaign for former professional baseball player J.D. Scholten, who is running against GOP Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingSteve King fundraising off controversy surrounding white supremacy comments Steve King's primary challenger raises more than 0k in first 10 days of campaign GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE, a prominent immigration hardliner, in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. The race is rated “likely Republican” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Sanders will attend several events with Scholten: rallies in Sioux City and Ames; a town hall focused on Social Security; and a homecoming parade at Iowa State University. The rally in Ames will also include Deidre DeJear, who is running for Iowa secretary of state and is the first black major-party nominee for a statewide office in Iowa.

Harris is scheduled to visit on Monday and Tuesday, participating in early voting rallies in various locations in the state, including the Des Moines area and Cedar Rapids.

A number of those events will be held on college campuses, including a rally at Des Moines Area Community College with congressional candidate Cindy Axne and a couple of candidates for state legislature. Axne, a small-business owner, is looking to unseat GOP Rep. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungIowa New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote Dem Axne beats GOP Rep. Young in Iowa MORE in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District — a race rated a “toss-up” by Cook.

Iowa could be a key state in Democrats’ quest to take control of the House. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win the majority, and there are three GOP-held congressional districts in Iowa that could flip. In addition to the races involving Scholten and Axne, state lawmaker Abby Finkenauer is running against Rep. Rod Blum (R) in the 1st Congressional District in a race Cook rates as “lean Democratic.”

There are also state-level races that Democrats are hoping to win, including DeJear’s and the gubernatorial one.

DeJear spokeswoman Cynthia Sebian-Lander said it’s important to get students excited about the upcoming election and that it helps to have big names help with the campaigning.

“Lots of early voting locations are going to be open next week, so it’s a great time to visit,” Sebian-Lander said.

The midterm campaign trips also give possible presidential candidates the chance to test out messages and connect with people who might help their eventual campaigns.

Sanders has experience campaigning in Iowa. He narrowly lost the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucuses to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonConservatives pound BuzzFeed, media over Cohen report BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president Trump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier MORE.

Harris, however, isn’t very well known in the state. This will be her first visit to Iowa since the 2008 presidential cycle, when she campaigned for then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAmericans need an economy that supports more than the 1 percent Pompeo’s retreat into chaos Barack Obama wishes Michelle a happy birthday: 'You’re one of a kind' MORE during her tenure as San Francisco district attorney.

Sean Bagniewski, chair of the Polk County Democrats, said Harris’s visit gives her an opportunity to introduce herself to Iowa voters.

“There’s a draw and anticipation of meeting her for the first time,” he said. The Polk County Democrats are hosting an event with Harris and DeJear on Monday, and Bagniewski estimated that about 500 people will attend, more than initially expected.

Prominent Republicans have also been showing up in Iowa in advance of the Nov. 6 midterm elections. President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Ann Coulter blasts Trump shutdown compromise: ‘We voted for Trump and got Jeb!’ MORE visited earlier this month, and Vice President Pence made the trip on Friday.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE (R-Wis.), who’s retiring from Congress in early January, will be in Iowa on Tuesday to campaign for Young. He’s also expected to campaign for Blum before the midterms.

Harris and Sanders are not the only possible Democratic presidential candidates making stops in Iowa this month.

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Ocasio-Cortez returns to 'The Late Show' on Monday We need action on personal cybersecurity MORE (D-N.J.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDem senator requests FBI investigate Nielsen for potential perjury Trump officials discussed ‘deterrent effect’ of prosecuting migrant parents: report Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest partial shutdown MORE (D-Ore.), as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), have made visits to the state in recent days and weeks, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has been spending part of this weekend in the state.

Hickenlooper spoke on Friday at the World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines and headlined meet-and-greet events to support state legislature candidates. He is participating in canvas kickoff events Saturday with the Iowa Democratic Coordinated Campaign, said Brad Komar, executive director for Hickenlooper's leadership PAC.

Having Sanders, Harris and Hickenlooper in the state over the course of a few days is just a taste of what’s in store between now and the Feb. 3, 2020, caucuses.

“It’s going to be busy, for sure,” Bagniewski said.