Just as her standing in state and national polls are rising, so are the ranks of Senator Kamala Harris’ Iowa campaign staff.
Her newly-expanded field team started their jobs yesterday, with 30 new field organizers coming on board. And Harris is expanding her Iowa leadership team with a couple of notable hires.
Lilian Sanchez, a Des Moines native, is coming over from State Auditor Rob Sand’s office, joining Harris as their deputy political director for Iowa. She already has some experience working with Harris’ team, serving as a legislative intern for the senator for part of 2018.
Sharon Yang joins Harris as their new Iowa press secretary. She worked as a deputy press secretary for Senator Tim Kaine’s reelection campaign in Virginia, and was a part of Tom Perriello’s gubernatorial campaign.
Torey Cahn is the campaign’s new Iowa data director. He previously ran the Nevada data and analytics program for the party, part of the effort that sent Jacky Rosen to the Senate and got Steve Sisolak elected as governor.
Sean McEnerney will serve as Harris’ new Iowa deputy organizing director. This is the fourth Iowa campaign McEnerney has been a part of, previously working as a state senate campaign manager and as a regional field director for Martin O’Malley and later the party.
“Team Harris is excited to be bringing on more talented staff that will be critical to our operation across the state,” said Harris Iowa State Director Will Dubbs. “Organizers around the state will be meeting with caucus-goers and hosting events that will expand our reach exponentially. Iowans are headed into these summer months excited to learn more about Kamala Harris and this team will be ready to show why she is the best person to take on Donald Trump and the candidate who will fight for them and their families.”
The Harris campaign announced their ramp-up in Iowa right after the Hall of Fame event earlier this month. Deidre DeJear said it was “game on” in the lead-off caucus state for Harris, signaling they were going all-in to contest the state.
The investment ended up being well-timed.
After her impressive performance in the debate last Thursday, Harris’ poll numbers have shot up, including here in Iowa. A poll from Suffolk University/USA Today show Harris climbing to second place in Iowa, up from fourth or fifth in most previous polls. The poll showed Joe Biden at 24%, Harris at 16%, Elizabeth Warren at 13%, Bernie Sanders at 9% and Pete Buttigieg at 6%.
As with several other candidates (see Beto O’Rourke and now, apparently, Buttigieg), bumps in polling numbers don’t always last. But if a candidate wants to make the most of any positive momentum, they need a full field operation in Iowa to fully take advantage of it, which Harris now has.
A candidate needs organizers scheduling one-on-ones with key activists, knocking on doors and mingling in the crowds at local party events. Iowans may get excited about a certain candidate for a few months, but unless there’s an organizer getting them to sign a commit-to-caucus card, their interest can more easily drift elsewhere.
Harris returns to Iowa this week for a three-day trip around the 4th of July. She hits up a West Des Moines Democrats picnic and holds a women’s health town hall in Des Moines before heading out for stops in Indianola and Western Iowa.
by Pat Rynard