Pete Buttigieg is headed into the Democratic debate in Des Moines next week with a new group of prominent Iowa endorsers.
State Rep. Kristin Sunde, a first-term legislator who flipped a Republican district in 2018, announced her backing of the former South Bend mayor today, as did Iowa women’s rights advocate Kirsten Anderson and 23 more local elected officials and activists from a broad cross-section of Iowa.
The addition of Sunde brings Buttigieg’s number of Polk County legislative endorsements to three (Sen. Tony Bisignano and Rep. Brian Meyer previously endorsed), and adds a well-known leader in an important Des Moines metro suburb.
Sunde represents HD 42, which covers most of West Des Moines in Polk County. It’s a delegate-rich area for Democrats on caucus night thanks to its past high turnout and how it has quickly trended Democratic in recent years. Though each Iowa House district represents 1% of the population, HD 42 accounts for close to 1.5% of the state delegate equivalents on caucus night.
In just a few short years, Sunde’s district went from a relatively safe Republican seat to a Democratic stronghold. A presidential candidate that can prove they can continue to drive the party’s gains there can be useful to their electability message.
“Our next president needs to be someone who can unite Americans and heal our deep divide,” said Sunde. “I believe Mayor Pete can do that. He’s intelligent, even-tempered and committed to representing a broad constituency … As someone who campaigned myself on bringing a more civil tone to politics, I am drawn to his sincere desire to elevate problem-solving over partisanship.”
If Buttigieg is to win Iowa on Feb. 3, an important part of his winning coalition will likely come through the suburbs, where his support among college-educated voters seems to run high. His event on the edge of Sunde’s district in West Des Moines just after Christmas brought out around 1,200 people.
Iowa Democrats’ biggest gains in 2018 came through the few suburban centers around Iowa, flipping seven House seats there alone.
Other candidates have split most of the suburban legislators: Cory Booker was endorsed by Rep. Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights, Rep. Kenan Judge of Waukee and Rep. Heather Matson of Ankeny; Amy Klobuchar has Sen. Liz Mathis and Rep. Molly Donahue of Marion; Elizabeth Warren has Sen. Claire Celsi of West Des Moines.
Also helpful to Buttigieg’s efforts among women in Central Iowa will be Anderson’s backing.
She’s become a leading voice on women’s rights issues after she spoke out against sexual harassment she endured while working for Iowa Senate Republicans at the Statehouse. Anderson was an early endorser for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand last year.
“Mayor Pete is a uniter with a fresh, positive perspective,” said Anderson. “He has a keen worldview, thanks to his time in the military, and a fresh perspective on the local government issues that affect us daily. He understands the need to unite Americans around the urgent challenges facing our communities, and he recognizes the importance we play in international politics.”
Buttigieg is also being endorsed by Loree Miles, a prominent supporter of Planned Parenthood in Central Iowa, and David Miles, a former member of the Iowa Board of Regents.
But to win on caucus night, you need a wide base of support that keeps you competitive everywhere. Buttigieg is hoping his more pragmatic ideological message and Midwest upbringing makes him appealing to Democrats in rural and blue-collar areas.
To that end, he also has a wide mix of new endorsements from small and mid-sized towns and cities across the state.
Mayor Matt Bemrich of Fort Dodge and Mayor Pro-Tem Paul Adams of Mason City are adding their name to Buttigieg’s list of supporters.
“I am supporting Pete Buttigieg because he has the unique ability to unite our country,” said Adams. “His executive experience, education, and military background give him all the tools to be an outstanding President of the United States.”
Buttigieg is also rolling out a large number of backers in Northeast Iowa, a corner of the state that saw some of the biggest swings toward Trump. It’s also home to Decorah, an area with lots of progressive activist support and high turnout.
From that area endorsing Buttigieg are Steve Weipert, the mayor of Marquette; Brian Bruening, Chair of Clayton County Democrats; Larry Popenhagen, former Fayette County Auditor; Edward Josten, Elkader City Councilmember; Curt Snitker, Lansing City Councilmember; and Andy Carlson, Decorah City Council Member.
Here is the full list of new Buttigieg endorsers:
- State Representative Kristin Sunde, West Des Moines
- Mike Moreland, former Iowa State Representative, Ottumwa
- Nick Maybanks, Assistant Linn County Attorney
- Paul Adams, Mayor Pro-Tem of Mason City
- Matt Bemrich, Mayor of Fort Dodge
- Steve Weipert, Mayor of Marquette
- Brian Bruening, Chair of Clayton County Democrats
- Larry Popenhagen, former Fayette County Auditor
- Edward Josten, Elkader City Council
- Curt Snitker, Lansing City Council
- Rob Archibald, Hiawatha City Council
- Dean Genth, former Obama Cerro Gordo County leader
- Andy Carlson, Decorah City Council Member
- Jim Hussey, Mid-Prairie School Board Member
- Erica Barker, Maquoketa City Council
- Nathan Woodward, Maquoketa City Council
- Sean Thompson, former Ogden City Council Member
- Andy Dudler, former University Heights City Council Member
- Heidi Thompson, former Ogden School Board Member
- Bob Thomas, Centerville School Board Member and former Chair of Appanoose County Democrats
- David Miles, former member of the Iowa Board of Regents
- Loree Miles, Planned Parenthood Board member and volunteer
- Cody Howell, community activist
- Adam Wright, mental health activist
- Kirsten Anderson, women’s rights advocate
by Pat Rynard