Sen. Bernie Sanders dominated the first satellite caucus held in Iowa today, giving him an early victory in the first publicly-known result of the entire Democratic primary process. Sanders got the support of 14 caucus-goers out of the 15 that attended a satellite caucus Monday morning in Ottumwa, in Southeast Iowa.
Only one Iowan at the UFCW Local 230 union hall caucused for Sen. Elizabeth Warren. That put her below the 15% viability threshold; she declined to join the Sanders crowd during realignment.
Senator @BernieSanders is the only viable candidate at the first caucus of the day in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. 14 of 15 stood for Sanders, 1 for @ewarren. Warren is not viable here in Ottumwa. Warren's supporter declined to realign. pic.twitter.com/SvqqjaVppA
— Paige Godden (@PaigeGodden) February 3, 2020
The satellite caucuses are an expanded option for participation in this year’s Iowa Caucus, organized to help shift workers, students, nursing home residents and health care workers participate at different times if they can’t make the evening precinct caucuses. There are 87 in Iowa, the country and around the world.
The Ottumwa location was at a UFCW labor hall. A group of Ethiopian immigrants who work at the local pork processing plant, all of whom supported Sanders, comprised almost half of the caucus attendees.
State delegate equivalents from individual satellite caucus sites will be awarded once the total number of caucus attendees is known later tonight. The results of the satellite caucuses will not be officially reported until later tonight, but for most of those that are open to the public, reporters can attend and observe what happens.
Phil Cross, who works at JBS Pork in Ottumwa, backed Sanders. He said the union decided as a group to back Sanders.
“He’s for equal wages, he’s for whether you’re a male or female to be treated with respect at work, he is for people to have the right to see a doctor without costing you a fortune,” Cross said. “These are all qualities that every man, woman and child in the U.S. of America prefer, really.”
Frank Flanders, the precinct chair and political director for the UFCW, said he applied for the satellite caucus so second shift workers could caucus.
“I applied for this because I wanted to get people who work second shift a chance to participate in the Democratic process,” Flanders said. “I feel it is voter suppression that the caucuses are held at such a time that second shift workers can’t attend.”
By Paige Godden and Elizabeth Meyer