Warren As Unifier: Two State Reps/Booker Backers, Polk Leaders Endorse

Photo by Julie Fleming

Most polling in Iowa has shown voters placing Sen. Elizabeth Warren as their preferred second choice option in race, an important advantage for her in the realignment phase of caucus night. But with so many other candidates dropping out before Feb. 3, those second choice movements are already playing out in Warren’s favor beforehand.

Today, state Reps. Jennifer Konfrst and Heather Matson, both of whom were prominent Cory Booker supporters, are endorsing Warren, as are 25 other Polk County elected officials and activists. Several of them were also previously backing a different candidate, which helps Warren drive home the message that she’s the unifier of the party in the primary.

“On Feb. 3, I will proudly stand with Elizabeth Warren in my precinct caucus,” Konfrst said. “Nothing is more important to me than electing a president who has a vision for ensuring everyone in our country has a chance at the American dream.”

Both legislators campaigned often for Booker in the state and were helping organize their precincts.

“I was called to action in this presidential race by a message of civic grace and common purpose, and a sincere desire to heal our country,” Matson said. “And after a long Iowa Caucus campaign, Elizabeth Warren has emerged as the best candidate to defend our shared values, ensure opportunity for all and give a voice to those too often left behind.”

The list of new Polk County endorsers could be particularly impactful for Warren given the county’s outsized role in the Democratic caucus. Nearly 20% of Iowa’s registered Democrats live in Polk County, home to Des Moines, and the county alone accounts for 392 state delegates. The second largest count comes from Cedar Rapids’ Linn County, which has 189 delegates.

The list includes Josh Mandelbaum, a Des Moines City councilman who announced his support for Warren at a Des Moines event this weekend.

There are many other local elected officials on the list, but the biggest pick-up may be Mary McAdams, the leader of the Ankeny Area Democrats. She’s built up a huge volunteer infrastructure in the fast-growing, delegate-rich suburb that was home to Matson’s red-to-blue victory in 2018. Warren was one of two candidates who planned on attending the Ankeny Democrats’ annual fundraiser this past week before it was called off due to the snowstorm.

In an op-ed posted to Iowa Starting Line, Polk County Democratic Chair Sean Bagniewski called McAdams “a genius for volunteer recruitment and engagement.”

Warren is also winning over the chairs of several other Democratic neighborhood groups in Polk County, including Vanessa Phelan, the Northwest Des Moines Area Dems Chair; Suzette Jensen, of the East Des Moines Area Dems; Lila Starr, of the Clive Area Democrats; and Kim El-Baroudi, the Heart of Des Moines Area Dems Co-Chair.

Phelan had endorsed Kamala Harris, Jensen previously backed Steve Bullock, and El-Baroudi was with Booker.

Just last week, Iowa Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen endorsed Warren as well.

“I want our next president to bring our nation back together,” Petersen said in a news release. “That’s why I’m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren for President. All Iowans and all Americans can unite behind her plans for ending corruption and ensuring opportunity.”

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Here’s the full list of Polk County leaders and activists who have recently endorsed Warren:

  • Jennifer Konfrst, Iowa State Representative, Windsor Heights
  • Heather Matson, Iowa State Representative, Ankeny
  • Josh Mandelbaum, Des Moines City Councilman, Des Moines
  • Brian Shipley, Elkhart City Councilman, Elkhart
  • Steve Zook, Mitchellville City Council, Mitchellville
  • Ashley Anderson, Urbandale School Board Member, Urbandale
  • Lori Slings, Southeast Polk School Board President, Altoona
  • Katie Rock, Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner, Des Moines
  • Lila Starr, Clive Area Dems Chair, Clive
  • Mary McAdams, Ankeny Area Dems Chair, Ankeny
  • Vanessa Phelan, NW Des Moines Area Dems Chair, Des Moines
  • Suzette Jensen, East Des Moines Area Dems Co-Chair, Des Moines
  • Kim El-Baroudi, Heart of Des Moines Area Dems Co-Chair, Des Moines
  • Nick Kruse, IDP Stonewall Caucus Vice Chair, Des Moines
  • Matt Sinovic, Progressive Activist, Urbandale
  • Connie Ryan, Faith Leader, Des Moines
  • Jennifer Harvey, Faith Leader & Professor, West Des Moines
  • Guy Cunningham, Grand View Professor, Des Moines
  • Rosemary Kirlin, Activist and Former DAWN’s List President, Des Moines
  • Dan Chibnall, Former Iowa Library Association President, West Des Moines
  • Grace Van Cleave, Entrepreneur, Des Moines
  • Bonnie Brown, Community Activist, Des Moines
  • Julie Hale, Community Activist, West Des Moines
  • Antonio Montoya, Community Activist, Clive
  • Marie Herring, Community Activist, West Des Moines
  • Mary Kahl, Community Activist, Des Moines
  • Polly Antonelli, Community Activist, Altoona


by Paige Godden
Posted 1/21/20

3 Comments on "Warren As Unifier: Two State Reps/Booker Backers, Polk Leaders Endorse"

  • I’ve been voting since 1972 and can’t remember ever caucusing for a candidate because “such and such” endorsed them and after all…they are supposed to know better than I do. I’m hoping most of my fellow Iowans think for themselves and do their own homework on the respective candidates over the next two weeks. In 2016 Hillary had a bushel of endorsements – turned out she was a lousy campaigner and lost. Please think for yourself when it comes to evaluating the candidates and by all means attend your local caucus- and bring a neighbor. The “first in the nation” Iowa Caucus is under intense scrutiny and criticism – even worse than previous years.

  • Don’t know how to (if there is a way) to send you kudos, Pat, but consider this comment a “bravo” to you. Exactly correct!

  • We listen to people like yourself, Pat Kinnick, folks who write posts on important, thoughtful, sites like Iowa Starting Line. We listen to our family and neighbors, we listen to people who spend a lot of time out there in the trenches working on things that matter to us, be they activists or elected officials, who endorse candidates who they believe will make real change happen. We read about the candidates, we see, hear and question the candidates at events, and then we make our decisions. For a large and growing number of us, that decision making has led us to Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is whip-smart, educated, experienced and progressive, with bold ideas and real plans that speak to us as a country in crisis. She is a tireless campaigner, running from one event to another, exciting audiences of supporters and new supporters. She will take that energy all the way to the convention and then she will soundly beat Trump.

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