Pete Buttigieg has his first notable public endorsement for the Iowa Caucus: Jean Lloyd-Jones of Iowa City, a former legislator and the first woman who was nominated by a major Iowa party for a U.S. Senate race.
Lloyd-Jones, who served in the Iowa House for four terms and the Iowa Senate for two, has been a trailblazer for women’s rights throughout her public service career in the state. She was a past state president of the League of Women Voters, championed a measure in the Legislature that implemented gender-balance on all state boards and commissions and was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003. Democrats nominated her to take on Chuck Grassley in the 1992 Senate race.
Although anecdotally Buttigieg has at least several other well-known Iowa Democrats backing him, this is the first endorsement their campaign is publicly rolling out. Their caucus operation ramped up later than most of the other top contenders, who have racked up a large number of endorsements in previous months.
The Lloyd-Jones endorsement comes after Buttigieg’s campaign announced a significant expansion in Iowa. Buttigieg will have 100 total staff and 20 field offices opened around Iowa by the time of the Polk County Steak Fry on September 21. Over 1,100 Iowans turned out to their office openings in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City over the Labor Day weekend when Buttigieg was in town. They had to move their Iowa City event out to a city park after 800 people showed up.
In both Linn County and Johnson County, also home to Lloyd-Jones, are areas where Buttigieg could rack up a lot of support on caucus night. Polling tends to show him doing well with higher-educated older Democrats, and a donor map from the New York Times had him doing well there compared to the rest of the field.
Buttigieg has seen very impressive crowd turnouts at his events and volunteer enthusiasm, but the one major public part lacking has been the backing of caucus veterans and activists that can organize their county or a specific constituency. This may be the start of that phase of Buttigieg’s Iowa efforts.
by Pat Rynard
Photo by Julie Fleming