New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand today became the first presidential candidate to weigh in on Democrats’ primary for the U.S. Senate, putting her support behind Theresa Greenfield.
Greenfield, a farmer who grew up in a small Minnesota town and now runs a small business in Des Moines, launched her candidacy to take on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst on Monday with a video highlighting her rural roots.
“We need more women at the table in Washington, and Theresa has a powerful story to tell,” said Gillibrand in a statement. “Theresa started out a farm kid and never lost those values, and her can-do attitude will go a long way in the U.S. Senate. Theresa will never forget who she is, where she comes from and who she’s fighting for. Iowans deserve a brave fighter like Theresa, and I can’t wait to see her win.”
Though Greenfield already has landed significant Iowa and now national endorsements (both the DSCC and EMILY’s List endorsed her this morning), the Democratic field could still expand. Small businessman Eddie Mauro and attorney Kimberly Graham currently round out the primary field.
On Wednesday, Greenfield released a list of 20 other endorsements from well-known Iowa Democrats, including former lieutenant governor Sally Pederson and former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Andy McGuire.
“Theresa is committed to listening to hardworking Iowans and representing our whole state, and she will be a force to be reckoned with when she’s elected as our next senator,” said Pederson in a statement.
Gillibrand’s alignment with Greenfield is not the first time prominent party members have weighed in on Iowa’s Senate campaigns.
In 2014, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, then actively planning a White House run, endorsed then-candidate Ernst, calling her “the type of tough, no-nonsense conservative that we need in Washington.”
No Republican has presented a primary challenge to Ernst in her first re-election bid.
Whether more 2020 presidential candidates decide to weigh in on the competitive Senate primary could prove influential at a time when voters are largely consumed with presidential politics rather than the goings-on in Congress.
“I’m honored to have the support of Senator Gillibrand, a tireless champion for women and families in the United States Senate who shares my priorities to protect Social Security, invest in public education, and stand up to corporate special interests,” said Greenfield.
by Elizabeth Meyer
Gillibrand photo by Julie Fleming