The state’s two major political parties held precinct caucuses last night. There are almost 1,700 precincts in Iowa, but Republicans consolidated their precinct meetings into 421 locations. Sam Clovis, one of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, recruited representatives to speak for him at more than 300 of those locations.
“When you are able to identify people in communities, neighbors and friends, and somebody’s going to stand up and speak from their heart about me, I think it sends a clear signal across the state that we do have a network and we do have people supporting us out there,” Clovis told Radio Iowa.
Clovis and four other GOP Senate candidates spoke in Cedar Rapids to the more than 350 Linn County caucus-goers gathered for a unified caucus in Iowa’s second-largest county. In Waterloo, Black Hawk County Democrats met in one location and that’s where Congressman Bruce Braley — the only Democrat running for the U.S. Senate — spent his evening.
“I want you to leave here, not worried about how cold it is outside, but about the fire that you’re going to light inside this room so that by the time we get to November 4 we have an army of Democratic foot soldiers out there getting people to the polls, getting them to vote early,” Braley said, “so that we have the best opportunity to have the kind of election night we want on November 4.”
Braley, who is from Waterloo, told his hometown Democrats to “fasten their seatbelts” for an intense campaign.
“We can send a strong message to Iowa and a strong message to this country,” Braley said. “We’re not going backwards. We’re going forward to the type of hope and opportunity that Tom Harkin taught us to expect from our country,” Braley said.
Harkin announced at this time last year that he would not seek reelection to the senate in 2014.
Like Black Hawk Democrats, county leaders in other parts of the state consolidated precincts into 500 meeting sites last night. The caucuses were the opening round in future party leadership battles, as delegates were elected to attend the next county of party meetings — county caucuses — in March. Neither party has compiled attendance figures from last night.
Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s 2014 reelection campaign had a turn-out effort for the caucuses. The governor attended his own precinct caucus in Des Moines. Iowa’s other top Republican — U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of rural New Hartford — went to and spoke at the unified caucus in Cedar Rapids last night instead of his hometown precinct meeting.