IOWA CAUCUS 2020

Fact Checker: There's more to the story about Amy Klobuchar's Iowa endorsements

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during Jan. 19 a town hall at Uptown Snug in Marion. (Andy A
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during Jan. 19 a town hall at Uptown Snug in Marion. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

At a Jan. 19 campaign stop in Marion, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — one of a dozen Democrats in the race for the presidential nomination — touted her support from state leaders.

“We have more endorsements of elected legislators and former legislators in the state of Iowa than any candidate in this race,” she said.

Analysis

The Klobuchar campaign cited Iowa Starting Line, a left-leaning online news publication, and its 2020 endorsement tracker when the Fact Checker team asked for this claim’s source.

Iowa Starting Line’s tracker includes endorsements from current and former Iowa legislators for 16 presidential candidates, nine of them still in the race. Three of the candidates — Tulsi Gabbard, Mike Bloomberg and Deval Patrick — are not included in the tracker because they have not received any Iowa endorsements, Starting Line founder and managing editor Pat Rynard said in an email.

Graded an A

The tracker counts endorsements from prominent Iowans, including elected officials, organizers and activists.

For this check, we’re counting past and present Iowans who have held elected office in the Iowa Legislature as “elected legislators and former legislators in the state of Iowa.”

More than 90 of those have endorsed one of the Democrats running for president, according to the tracker. Of those, 28 had picked Klobuchar as of Jan. 22.

Those include 17 members of the Iowa House and Iowa Senate. Sen. Liz Mathis of Hiawatha, Rep. Molly Donahue of Cedar Rapids and Sen. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids — who announced his support days after Klobuchar made this claim — are among those backing her.

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As of Jan. 22, trailing the Minnesota senator’s top number of endorsements from Iowans who have held or hold the elected positions were Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 18, former Vice President Joe Biden with 15 and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 12.

It’s important to note that Klobuchar’s claim is very narrow and specific. Yes, she has more endorsements from current and former Iowa Statehouse legislators. But if we consider all of the Iowa endorsements made at the time she made this claim, Klobuchar is far from the top.

Adding in local officials, activists and other prominent Iowans, she has the fifth-greatest number of total endorsements among her rivals.

Warren has the most, followed by Sen. Cory Booker — who dropped out this month — Buttigieg, Biden and then Klobuchar.

And those endorsements continue to pour in during the final days until the Monday caucuses. Candidates’ counts continue to shift — Biden’s campaign Tuesday shared a list of 24 past and current Iowa lawmakers who have picked the former vice president, and Warren’s count had grown to 20 by Tuesday.

Other candidates have also netted bigger-name Iowa endorsements than Klobuchar.

Biden won over former Govs. Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and U.S. Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne. U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack has endorsed Buttigieg.

Conclusion

Caveats aside, for her specific claim Klobuchar is right that of the Democrats left standing, she had the most current and former Iowa legislators behind her as of Jan. 22. She gets an A.

Criteria

The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate/officeholder or a national candidate/officeholder about Iowa, or in ads that appear in our market.

Claims must be independently verifiable.

We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.

If you spot a claim you think needs checking, email us at factchecker@thegazette.com.

This Fact Checker was researched and written by Molly Duffy of The Gazette.

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