Iowa Democrats get their first taste of some multi-candidate caucus events during the next two weeks, served up with sides of soup and spaghetti. Three Democratic county parties will host at least two to three presidential candidates at their local fundraisers in Central and Southern Iowa.
The Monroe County Democrats will hear from Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney, and Eric Swalwell this Sunday in Albia at their annual Spaghetti Supper fundraiser. It’s one of the Minnesota senator’s first events in Iowa since her campaign announcement last weekend. Swalwell is expected to kick off his presidential bid sometime soon.
Just up the road a few hours before that, the Marion County Democrats have Klobuchar and Delaney at their Presidents Day Soup Lunch in Knoxville.
The following weekend the Story County Democrats welcome a lineup of Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper at their annual Soup Supper fundraiser in Ames. This will be one of the first Iowa activist events that Harris and Castro will do since they made their runs official. Hickenlooper may announce sometime soon.
It will be the first chance this year for caucus-goers to meet multiple presidential candidates at one event, typically a staple of caucus campaigning. There wasn’t nearly as many of these opportunities in the 2016 caucus when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders mostly stuck to staging their own large events across the state, but it’ll be a necessity for almost everyone this time.
With an incredibly large field of candidates, it will eventually get difficult for campaigns to draw large crowds to their stand-alone events when there may be five Democrats coming through a county in one week. That’s especially true for some of the lesser-known contenders with smaller staffs. But there’s usually no shortage of local Democratic gatherings to choose from in Iowa in any given week.
The soup supper circuit presents a different format for the White House hopefuls to adjust to. It also reveals which ones excel at retail politicking. Most local parties only give candidates about five to ten minutes each to make their case, and the rest of the time is spent mingling with attendees. That obviously tests out a different skill set for candidates than when they have their own events with a 20-minute stump speech and a 40-minute Q & A. It’s usually in these settings where we see the presidential contenders start to really hone their elevator pitch.
Then again, there’s also those local parties that let candidates speak for as long as they want. This reporter attended quite a few county party fundraisers during Iowa’s crowded 2018 primary that lasted over four hours each. Hopefully that won’t be the case for these upcoming ones.
Here are the details for all of the events:
Marion County Democrats Presidents Day Soup Lunch
Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney
Sunday, February 17, 1:00 – 4:00 pm (Delaney is there around 2:00)
Peace Tree Brewing Company
107 W. Main St, Knoxville, Iowa
Monroe County Democrats Spaghetti Supper
Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney, Eric Swalwell
Sunday, February 17, 5:00 pm
First Christian Church
203 Washington Ave E, Albia, Iowa
Story County Democrats Soup Supper
Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Julian Castro
Saturday, February 23rd, 5:00 pm
2622 Lincoln Way, Ames
by Pat Rynard