CUCKOO FOR CAUCUSES!
By ANDREW MCGINN
Millions of dollars have been spent complaining about millionaires for just this occasion — and the hope you might be persuaded to take a break from your second or third job Monday night to stand in the corner of a room on behalf of a millionaire.
The Iowa Caucuses are a real gas.
We take our first-in-the-nation status seriously in Iowa — even Republicans are caucusing Monday; spoiler alert, Trump takes all — much to the continual disdain of coastal elites.
This time around, they dispatched “The Daily Show” to what looked like Perry to point fingers at the glaring truth about Iowa — that we’re pretty darn white — and caught a couple of familiar faces on camera. Bill and Peg Raney were even transformed briefly into a meme.
But, over the past year, we single-handedly winnowed the pool of Democrats running for president this November from 183 to a still-bonkers nine, 10 or 11.
If that’s not sacrifice, what is?
We may very well have saved a child in a Super Tuesday state from having to sit through a Tom Steyer commercial before every YouTube video. (That belt of his, though, is something to behold, like a swath of Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.)
With so many candidates jockeying for the Democratic nomination, it can be hard to remember everyone who visited Greene County this past year.
If it’s important to caucus for someone who put in the groundwork — someone you could look squarely in the eyes — then let the following be your guide.
I wrote my first story on a visiting candidate clear back on Feb. 1, when Andrew Yang — introduced at that time by local Democrats as “Andrew Wang” — delivered a terrifying stump speech at the Milwaukee Depot in Jefferson about the robots that will soon take over everyone’s jobs.
But it’s hard enough anymore to remember what happened last week, let alone last February.
Herald Publishing co-owner Doug Burns, who lives and breathes politics, was interviewing John Delaney well before that, as the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in 2017.
Delaney is a former three-term Maryland congressman and arguably the hardest-working man in the Iowa Caucuses — and near rock-bottom in all polling.
Still, he was back in Greene County on Jan. 21, when he knocked on doors in Dana (yes, Dana, home to all of 71 people).
That right there is some serious retail politics.
Several candidates who visited Greene County are no longer in the race, but I included them in this roundup anyway, because there’s always 2024.
Jan. 31, 2019
John Delaney technically got caucus season started with a visit to American Athletic Inc.
At the time, Doug Burns reported, it was already his 23rd trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate.
He was driving himself around the state in the pickup truck he inherited from his dad.
Feb. 1, 2019
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang held a town hall at the depot attended by about 20 people who heard about the need for a guaranteed, universal basic income of $1,000 a month from the federal government (generated by a value-added tax of 10 percent on companies that benefit the most from automation).
“We’re about to automate away the most common jobs in America,” Yang said, predicting the dawn of self-driving trucks.
“Many of these truckers,” he explained, “are going to show up at state capitals with their trucks and their guns to protest the robots that have taken their jobs.”
A French TV crew attended the town hall — a reminder that the Iowa Caucuses were back.
Yang also toured the Forge just as renovation was beginning.
“Trump has turned fear into a political force,” self-help author Marianne Williamson told about 50 people at the Thomas Jefferson Gardens. “We must turn love into a political force.”
She then levitated across the room. (Kidding.)
The woman known as Oprah’s spiritual adviser went on to briefly captivate the race before ending her campaign earlier this month.
Ever the proud Irish-Catholic, Delaney was back the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day to serve up potato soup at the Churdan Public Library.
“The finest side of the Catholic Church,” he said, “is when it is serving the poor.”
The day after announcing his bid for presidency, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was standing on the farm of George and Patti Naylor near Churdan, where he spoke to farmers and other rural advocates, and mostly did his best to avoid the media.
Media from the Big Apple came anyway. One reporter had to ask what the word “CAFO” meant.
De Blasio suspended his campaign in September.
California Congressman Eric Swalwell, a Sac City native, visited the Uptown Cafe.
If you remember this one, you truly win the award for Most Dedicated Democrat.
Swalwell withdrew from the race in July.
Despite the support of actor Jeff “The Dude” Bridges, voters never seemed to abide Steve Bullock.
The governor of Montana made at least two appearances in Greene County, holding a town hall at Greene Bean Coffee in Jefferson and convening a meeting of local farmers at Heartland Cooperative in Rippey.
Talking in Jefferson, Bullock said, “We expect more from preschoolers than we do from this president.”
Bullock ended his campaign in December.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, visited the Junction Hilltop Wind Farm and was just as tickled as everyone else to learn the co-owner’s name is Tom Wind.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew an estimated 200 people to RVP-1875 in Jefferson, proving her worth as a top-tier candidate.
“I have the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate,” the Massachusetts senator said. “Here’s the bad news: We need the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate.
“I guarantee if there are decisions to be made in Washington, they have been influenced by money.”
Not sure if this one really counts, but Doug Burns caught up with Bernie Sanders at Cobblestone Hotel & Suites after the feisty U.S. senator from Vermont spent the night here on a swing through Iowa.
Never one to disappoint, Sanders went full Bernie on Burns.
“Here is the reality,” he said. (And, admit it, you just read that in his voice.) “For the last 45 years, there has been a war against working people in this country. What we have seen is, despite a huge increase in technology and worker productivity, the average American worker today is making in real inflation-accounted-for dollars, exactly what he or she made 45 years ago.”
Four years ago, Sanders sent celebrity surrogate Susan Sarandon to Jefferson to speak on his behalf.
This year, we couldn’t even get so much as an AOC.
This time, he toured the newly opened Forge, Accenture’s software design branch just off the Square.
“Our bet,” Chuck Offenburger wrote after the fact, “Julian Castro will eventually be president of the U.S.”
The key word — eventually.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Obama’s Cabinet, Castro held a meet and greet at the Milwaukee Depot.
He suspended his campaign on Jan. 2 and endorsed Warren.
That support of Warren brought his twin brother, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, to the Thomas Jefferson Gardens Welcome Center on Jan. 22.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was in the area, but only sent his wife, former Second Lady Jill Biden, to address about 25 people at the Milwaukee Depot.
Yang was back Sunday (see Burns’ story in this issue), and Pete Buttigieg made his first appearance Wednesday in the county.
Both held town halls at RVP-1875.