ELECTION 2020

'So much at stake' in 2020 election, Kamala Harris tells Iowa Democrats

Vice presidential candidate addresses virtual Liberty and Justice Celebration

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks Oct. 8 at Carpenters Local Union 1912 in Pho
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks Oct. 8 at Carpenters Local Union 1912 in Phoenix, as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden listens. Harris addressed Iowa Democrats’ virtual Liberty and Justice Celebration on Sunday. (Associated Press)

The election will be over soon enough, but California Sen. Kamala Harris warned Iowa Democrats the consequences may last generations.

“And there’s so much at stake,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate said during a three-and-a-half-minute speech at the state party’s annual Liberty and Justice Celebration on Sunday evening.

“We’re experiencing the worst public health crisis in a century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a reckoning on racial justice, a changing climate that is battering our coastlines, setting the west on fire and devastating farmers in Iowa,” she said during the hourlong event.

And it’s because of President Donald Trump’s failed leadership, according to Harris and the Democratic candidates for Iowa’s U.S. Senate and House seats, who also spoke to the virtual audience.

Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is the “greatest failure of any American presidency,” Harris said. “His failure to contain this virus is what has wreaked havoc on our economy. Of course, he’s not alone. Trump’s Republican Party has followed his lead, including many here in Iowa.”

She encouraged Iowa voters to “choose a better future” by sending Biden to the White House, Theresa Greenfield to the Senate, and Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne back to the House along with newcomers Rita Hart and J.D. Scholten.

A Biden administration will “contain this virus, save lives and build our economy back better than before,” Harris said.

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To do that, she said, the administration will invest in American manufacturing to add good-paying jobs with the choice to join a union. They also will invest in infrastructure, tackle climate change and “reverse the disastrous trade war that has hurt our farmers and ... stand with our corn growers and bolster the ethanol industry,” Harris said.

The congressional candidates touched on similar themes starting with Greenfield, who described herself as a mother and “scrappy farm kid.” She said she’s running for Senate because “we have got so much work to get done.”

“This is a race we can win. The polls show it’s a tossup, but I need your help,” she added.

First-term 1st District Rep. Finkenauer said she went to Washington to “fix the wrongs that the state of Iowa has done to Iowans.” She cited her efforts to investigate privatized Medicaid and support bills to restore public employees’ collective bargaining rights and institute buy-American requirements.

“We are just getting started,” she said.

Second District candidate Hart told Democrats this is the “most important election ever,” especially for people who need pandemic relief.

Third District Rep. Axne agreed, saying it’s the most important election because of the damage done by the Trump administration with the support of congressional Republicans “at the expense of hardworking Iowa families.”

Scholten, who is running for an open seat in the 4th District, talked about his “fix, fight and secure” campaign.

He’s running to “fix health care, fight for an economy that works for everyone and secure democracy because special interests are dictating things,” Scholten said.

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The celebration, formerly known as the Jefferson Jackson dinner, wasn’t all dry political speeches. Between speakers, participants were treated to cocktail recipes from venues in each of Iowa’s four congressional districts. That included Brianna and Jerome Smallwood’s “American Dreamin’” cocktail, which they serve at Vivian’s Soul Food in Cedar Rapids. Brian and Candy Stickle of the Atlantic and Pacific Pub in Knoxville in the 2nd District shared their recipe for the “Bring the Country Together Margarita.”

From the 3rd District, Joel and Jill Mahr of the Primrose in Corning mixed an “I Cannot Tell a Lie” cocktail. The 4th District was represented by Tucker Schneider of the Town Square Coffee House + Kitchen in Orange City, who shared his “Swift Kick to Go Vote” coffee drink.

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

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