Government

Special election in Iowa Senate District 30 draws presidential hopefuls to campaign

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock hasn't declared candidacy, but he's stumping for a Democrat in Iowa Senate race

From left, Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Steve Bullock of Montana speak to reporters during a National Governors Association event in downtown Des Moines on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)
From left, Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Steve Bullock of Montana speak to reporters during a National Governors Association event in downtown Des Moines on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)
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WATERLOO — The special election for Senate District 30 falls right at the beginning of Iowa Caucus season, and it shows.

So far one Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has campaigned for state Senate candidate Eric Giddens, and two more considering a presidential run — California Rep. Eric Swalwell and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock — are campaigning for Giddens as well.

“We value Iowa’s position as the first in the nation,” Giddens said. “This a unique and wonderful opportunity for us to welcome these visitors that are in the state anyway and have them come to Cedar Falls and Waterloo and see our community. It’s an exciting opportunity for us.”

More presidential candidates are expected to campaign for Giddens before the March 19 special election.

“We’ll see more in the next two weeks,” Giddens said.

On Tuesday, Bullock came to the Octopus, a bar near the University of Northern Iowa campus, to campaign for Giddens. He was in Iowa for a two-day National Governors Association workshop on workforce issues in Des Moines and also made a stop at the Parlor City Pub in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday night at an event hosted by the Linn County Democrats.

Bullock is considering a presidential run and rubbed elbows with several Cedar Valley Democrats, including Giddens.

“I’m out to help Eric Giddens and make sure every single vote matters along the way,” he said.

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Bullock isn’t announcing a run at this point, but he does have credentials. He was one of the few Democrats re-elected in 2016 to statewide office in a Republican-leaning state, he said.

“I think I have an important voice in this,” Bullock said.

On Sunday, Swalwell came to a Giddens rally in Waterloo and worked the phones.

“I’m pretty close to making a decision here,” Swalwell said. “I know the important role that Iowa plays in launching a candidacy.”

He’s hired staff in Iowa but still is sorting out whether running for president is right for his family.

Next week, entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang will campaign for Giddens at the University of Northern Iowa. The UNI campus is a major campaign spot because the of the timing of the election.

Several tables full of UNI students at the Octopus were pulled around Bullock on Tuesday, and he shared a beer with students while talking about the election.

Sydney Hanken, Rhiannon McLane and Nick Foxen were at the event. Hanken and McLane are UNI students and have seen a lot of campaigning on campus.

“People are working really hard to get the word out there,” McLane said. “We want to shape the world so we can live in a better place.”

With an incumbent president who so far has no Republican challengers, Walt Rogers, the Republican candidate for the District 30 seat, likely won’t receive the outside campaign support his Democratic opponent enjoys.

Rogers thinks the special election is a microcosm of the United States right now.

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“I think it’s a battle between mainstream Iowa ideas and far-left socialism,” Rogers said.

Rogers said he has the support of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley.

“I’ll take those people above anyone the Democrats can bring in to the state,” Rogers said.

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