Politics

2020 Democratic Hopefuls Flex Political Muscle In Iowa State Senate Special Election

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Tuesday’s special election for Iowa’s Senate District 30 has become a proving ground for Democratic 2020 Oval Office hopefuls.

Nine Democratic presidential candidates have appeared locally or publicly endorsed the campaign of Democratic candidate Eric Giddens, a Cedar Falls School Board member, in his race against former Republican state Rep. Walt Rogers.

“The whole thing is bizarre,” Giddens said in an interview with the Des Moines Register, referring to the attention generated by the special election.

The district turned out 33,322 votes in 2016 and includes the towns of Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Hudson, according to Ballotpedia.

WATERLOO, IOWA - MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke helps Iowa senate candidate Eric Giddens climb up into a pickup truck during a canvassing kickoff event March 16, 2019 in Waterloo, Iowa. After losing a long-shot race for U.S. Senate to Ted Cruz (R-TX), the 46-year-old O'Rourke is making his first campaign swing through Iowa after jumping into a crowded Democratic field this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WATERLOO, IOWA – MARCH 16: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke helps Iowa senate candidate Eric Giddens climb up into a pickup truck during a canvassing kickoff event March 16, 2019 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Presidential contenders campaigning for Giddens include Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who has not announced his candidacy. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sent her staff to Iowa to help get out the vote, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a get-out-the-vote email, according to Politico.

National press made the trip as well, with The Wall Street Journal, NBC’s “Meet the Press” and National Public Radio filing special reports. (RELATED: Beto O’Rourke Out-Raises All Candidates On First Day)

“Only in Iowa would a state Senate race attract all these national candidates,” Al Hays, a retired political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa, told the Register.

The seat was vacated by the abrupt resignation in February of Democrat Jeff Danielson, a four-term incumbent, and 20-year veteran of the Cedar Falls Fire Department, amid his objections to a city policy that replaced select firefighters with cross-trained police officers. He subsequently accepted a position with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) as a lobbyist, the Register reported.

Giddens’s opponent Rogers formerly represented the state’s 60th District. The past two elections have shown the district to be competitive. Danielson beat his opponent by 17 points in 2016, but the race in 2012 had only a 2-point margin.

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