Government

Month before Iowa caucuses, Democrats still weighing choices

Some all in for Bernie Sanders, others still 'searching'

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (right) speaks with a supporter after a Friday town hall at the National Motorcycle Museum i
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (right) speaks with a supporter after a Friday town hall at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa. The stop was one of the Democratic presidential hopeful’s “Not me, us” bus tour. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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ANAMOSA — Lauren Standish is “fully committed” to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

“I’m with all of his ideas,” Standish said after hearing the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful speak for more than an hour at an Anamosa town hall Friday. “This is the future I want to see.”

Standish and fellow University of Wisconsin-Platteville student Jacob Nachtigal supported Sanders in 2016 and will vote for him in Wisconsin’s primary on Super Tuesday — a month after Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses Feb. 3.

“He’s for the working class,” Nachtigal said, adding he believes Sanders’ Medicare for All plan will benefit everyone from millennials to seniors.

Thirty-one days out from the caucuses, not everyone was as certain.

Across the room at the National Motorcycle Museum — where Joe Biden campaigned the day before — Gwen Sheridan said she’s narrowed her choices to Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

She likes Sanders’ proposals for education funding but thinks Warren is stronger on support for child care that would make it easier for parents to be in the workforce.

Sheridan felt better after Sanders said working class families cannot find “decent, quality, affordable child care.”

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“We’re going to end that,” Sanders said. “I believe, you believe, in universal, high-quality, affordable child care for every family.”

Sheridan wasn’t completely satisfied with his explanation why the income tax for his health care plan would be 4 percent for everyone regardless of income. She would prefer a progressive tax that would increase as incomes rise.

In the end, Sheridan said, “I’m not committed, but I’m more enthusiastic about Sanders.”

Attending the town hall didn’t seem to make the decision easier for Christa Greve.

“I’m searching,” the Cedar Rapids garbage truck driver said. With $35,000 in student loans, it’s a struggle to pay her bills, so the proposals by Sanders and Warren to reduce college debt resonates with her.

“I’m not someone who follows a political party. I’m just looking for someone with a good heart,” she said as she played with her 22-month-old daughter, Eliza.

The “undecideds” are not alone, said Buzz Pounds of Hopkinton. The Delaware County Democratic Party chairman doesn’t plan to make a commitment until caucus night.

However, he said, “I’m a Medicare for All guy, so that kind of narrows the window.”

He thinks Democrats are narrowing their field of choices in the final month of the campaign.

“A lot of them are getting a lot closer,” Pounds said. He’s noticed they don’t necessarily go to see every candidate every time they are in the area.

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“They’re still trying to get to as many as they can, but they’re less interested in driving to Dubuque or Cedar Rapids,” he said.

Chuck and Fran Marsicek didn’t mind driving 3.5 hours from Wheaton, Ill., to Fran’s hometown of Anamosa to see Sanders. They backed him in 2016 and excited for his candidacy again this year.

“It’s his conviction,” Fran said.

“And spine,” Chuck added.

They like that he wants to make it easier, not harder, for workers to unionize and that he supports women’s rights.

Sanders, who campaigned at the Meskwaki Settlement near Tama on Thursday, continued his “Not me, us” bus tour Friday with stops in Waterloo and Decorah. He’ll be in Dubuque and Grundy Center on Saturday.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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