Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa

Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa

Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden wins New Jersey primary Biden wins Delaware primary Military madness in the age of COVID-19 MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTammy Duckworth hits back at Tucker Carlson: 'Walk a mile in my legs' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark Judd Gregg: The coming Biden coup 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 KingColorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Bottom line House GOP leaders condemn candidate who said black people should be 'proud' of Confederate statues 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 YoungDemocrats gain lead in three of Iowa's four House districts: poll Former Rep. David Young wins GOP primary in bid for old House seat Trump lends support to swing district Republicans 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 ClintonSusan Collins signals she won't campaign against Biden Cuccinelli says rule forcing international students to return home will 'encourage schools to reopen' Clinton labels ICE decision on international students 'cruel' and 'unnecessary' 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 ObamaTrump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? Biden hires top aides for Pennsylvania Spencer Cox defeats Jon Huntsman in Utah GOP governor primary 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 TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' MORE visited earlier this month, and Vice President Pence made the trip on Friday.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world 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 BookerNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew Booker easily wins New Jersey Senate primary MORE (D-N.J.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyHillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem Democratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed plane 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.