Beto O’Rourke is moving ever closer to an official presidential campaign launch, and he now has a top Iowa political operative to steer his efforts here. CNN reported that Norm Sterzenbach has been assisting O’Rourke’s initial Iowa outreach here, something Starting Line’s sources also confirmed.
It’s a major pickup for O’Rourke, a likely 2020 candidate who doesn’t have many Iowa connections or any previous trips to the state racked up (he was obviously busy with his senate race in 2018). Sterzenbach is a top Iowa campaign consultant and past executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party. Few others in the state know the caucus process, rules, and strategies better than him. Sterzenbach had been working with the IDP on their Iowa Caucus planning, but the IDP confirmed to Starting Line that they parted ways once he began working with O’Rourke.
As the New York Times wrote earlier today, part of Barack Obama’s original national team from his 2008 run is closely advising O’Rourke, seeing a new version of the inspiring upstart who rode an Iowa Caucus win into the White House. Sterzebach has another connection, however, to O’Rourke: a shared love of skateboarding. One of O’Rourke’s viral moments from his 2018 race was him skateboarding at a Whataburger; Sterzenbach is helping lead the effort to build a large new skatepark in Des Moines.
There’s also chatter of a potential O’Rourke visit to Iowa as soon as this weekend, perhaps to help kick off a volunteer canvass in Cedar Falls for Democrat Eric Giddens, a candidate in a state senate special election. Those plans appear to still be in the works.
O’Rourke has not visited Iowa during his political career (he was clearly busy with his own senate race last year), and has carefully danced around the state in recent months while deciding on a bid. He journeyed out to neighboring Wisconsin last month during a Midwest swing. But all signs in recent days point to a national campaign kick-off in the coming days or weeks.
by Pat Rynard
Photo via Flickr