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'Draft Beto' campaign to make Iowa push

'Draft Beto' campaign to make Iowa push

'Draft Beto' campaign to make Iowa push

If Beto O'Rourke decides to run, connections to operatives made by supporters in early primary states could prove significant. | AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

Democratic activists working to lay campaign groundwork for Beto ORourke if he decides to run for president are ratcheting up their efforts in Iowa, organizing Draft Beto meetings for next week in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, organizers told POLITICO.

Kimberley Strope-Boggus, a longtime field organizer and Iowa activist, will host a meeting of supporters at a restaurant in Des Moines on Thursday, though she said she has yet to commit to any candidate.

On Wednesday, Paul Esker, who worked on Fred Hubbells unsuccessful campaign for Iowa governor, will host a similar event in Iowa City, organizers said.

Though neither Strope-Boggus nor Esker have committed to ORourke, the meetings offer the former Texas congressman a modicum of visibility in Iowa as he continues to mull a campaign.

The Draft Beto effort organizing meetings in Iowa is separate from a similar draft campaign that recently added strategists in Nevada and South Carolina, two other early nominating states.

Our goal is to build a grassroots volunteer base that Beto can access if he decides to run, said Will Herberich, a New England-based strategist co-chairing the group pushing the Iowa effort. There are, as weve seen already, thousands of people from every state who are excited about the idea of Beto running for president. So, our mission is just to find ways to activate those people so they can begin organizing their communities.

ORourke has not yet said if he will run for president. But the former Texas congressman is leaning toward it, according to people who have talked with him or his advisers. If he decides to run, connections to operatives made by supporters in early primary states could prove significant.

Strope-Boggus worked on President Barack Obamas re-election campaign in 2012 and is co-chair of the events committee for the Polk County Democrats.

She has hosted gatherings for other potential contenders, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, and former Maryland Gov. Martin OMalley before OMalley took himself out of the race.

My conversations with activists or people coming off the midterm is that they like what they heard [from ORourke], they want to see more, and they are encouraging him to get into the race, she said. Iowans love political chum so if theres a Draft Beto 2020 sign, I guarantee Iowans will be there.

Still, other Democratic contenders have already made aggressive moves in Iowa and New Hampshire, courting donors and activists in the early nominating states. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeared in Iowa this past weekend, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), among others, is planning a trip.

There are going to be a lot of great candidates running in 2020, Strope-Boggus said. At the end of the day it is who can beat Trump.

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