Group to hold 'draft Beto' events in Des Moines, Iowa City – Des Moines Register


The national organization working to draft Beto O’Rourke into the 2020 presidential race will hold a pair of organizing events in Iowa this week. 

O’Rourke, a retiring U.S. representative from Texas who narrowly lost a U.S. Senate race to sitting Republican Ted Cruz, has yet to signal to Iowans that he’s interested in such a run. While other potential 2020 candidates have spent months campaigning on behalf of Iowa Democrats and making inroads with activists and organizers, O’Rourke has ignored phone calls from activists and entirely avoided the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

“Our goal is to meet as many Iowa voters and activists as we can and talk to them about why we think it’s so important that Beto O’Rourke run for president in 2020 and begin to lay the groundwork for a volunteer organization in Iowa for Beto that he can tap into if he does decide to run for president,” said Will Herberich, a co-chair of the national Draft Beto 2020 group. 

The first event will be held at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 16 at Sanctuary Pub in Iowa City. It’s hosted by local activist Paul Esker, who worked on Fred Hubbell’s failed gubernatorial run.

Kimberley Strope-Boggus, an activist and organizer, will host a 6:30 p.m. event Jan. 17 at Saints Pub and Patio in Des Moines

“I was approached about whether I would want to host something and I said, ‘Yes, of course,'” Strope-Boggus said. “The more people in the conversation talking about issues the better.”

Strope-Boggus said she’s still an undecided caucusgoer and resists the comparison of O’Rourke to President Barack Obama, for whom she helped organize in past campaigns.

“I’m not looking for the reincarnation of Obama,” she said. “That was a unique skill set and a coalition that was built. … There’s a lot of great candidates out there and they are unique in their own way.”

Though Iowans have yet to hear personally from O’Rourke, a December Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll showed that 11 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers say he is their first choice for president. 

Iowa Poll: Likely Democratic caucusgoers already like Beto O’Rourke

In a head-to-head poll of 20 Democrats actively seeking or considering a 2020 presidential run, O’Rourke came in third place. He follows former vice president Joe Biden (32 percent) and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (19 percent). 

Fifty-three percent of respondents view him favorably — he was one of only four potential candidates to crack the 50 percent threshold — and 11 percent view him unfavorably. Thirty-six percent say they are unsure. 

“I really think that our country needs a breath of fresh air — somebody who represents and can present a positive and inclusive vision for the country,” Herberich said. “And I think Beto has a special ability to do that, he showed it in his Senate race in Texas.”

Other groups also are pushing would-be candidates to consider a 2020 run. The volunteer group Organizing for Bernie will host nearly 400 events across the country on Saturday in an effort to convince the senator to make another run for the White House.

Follow the Register on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Brianne Pfannenstiel can be contacted at bpfann@dmreg.com or on Twitter @BrianneDMR.

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