Sanders Stumps for Former Campaign Coordinator

2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate and Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, was in Iowa Friday, giving his support for his former campaign coordinator for Iowa’s third congressional district, before stopping to hold a rally in Cedar Rapids. This is Sanders’ third trip back to the First-in-the-Nation caucus state since the 2016 election, making an appearance as the keynote speaker at the Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) last summer. Last fall, Sanders stopped in Iowa City for his ‘Bernie Sanders’ Guide to Political Revolution’ book tour.

Sanders’ appearance at the Curate in the East Village in Des Moines was as the headline speaker for a rally supporting Pete D’Alessandro. He is challenging Republican Congressman David Young.

Sanders’ speech was predominantly focused on reinforcing the aspects of his “political revolution” that took his campaign toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton, before narrowly losing in Iowa in 2016. Sanders called for a $15 minimum wage, Medicare-for-all, tuition-free public higher and secondary education, as well as for campaign finance reform.

Sanders is an avowed socialist.

“We are in the process in Iowa, and in Illinois, Vermont, all over the country of transforming American politics,” Sanders said. “Of ending government by the rich and for the rich, for the government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Sanders additionally highlighted the need to offer more protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and to create and enforce meaningful gun legislation by mandating background checks and closing gun show loopholes, as well as funding the country’s mental health system. However, in response to crowd calls for an assault weapons ban, Sanders deferred and asked the crowd to allow him to continue his speech. Sanders faced considerable criticism for his past positions on gun control during the Democratic primary.

With three visits to the state within a year-and-a-half, it can be interpreted that Sanders is maintaining his public image and getting an early start to energizing a base ahead of 2020. Sanders, 76, deferred questions from reporters throughout the week about eyeing another presidential run, stating that a victory for progressives in 2018 comes first, and is most important.

D’Alessandro faces five other opponents for the Democratic nomination for the third district, a majority of which have been able to raise money to take on incumbent Young. In terms of cash-on-hand at the end of the most recent campaign finance reporting cycle, D’Alessandro ranks fourth with only $27,956. Three candidates already have at least $150,000 in cash-on-hand as of the reporting deadline last month. D’Alessandro’s campaign has stated that contributions are small in number as he relies on donations from individual supporters rather than large Political Action Committees (PACs), following Sanders’ path in the 2016 presidential race in which he did not accept large donations from PACs.

Volunteers from several other campaigns were in attendance with petitions to ensure candidates were on county ballots, including Democratic candidates for governor Cathy Glasson and Nate Boulton. A number of leading Democratic candidates were in attendance.