Minnesota Democrats descend on Iowa for final push ahead of Monday's caucuses

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar hugs National Nurses United president Jean Ross.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar hugs National Nurses United president Jean Ross as both Minnesotans helped kick off a canvassing event for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

Working the phones or firing up the faithful, Minnesota backers of several Democratic presidential candidates descended on Iowa on Friday for the final push ahead of next week’s leadoff caucuses in their party’s nominating race.

Mayors Melvin Carter of St. Paul and Emily Larson of Duluth trekked to three appearances to vouch for Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, while Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar helped launch a mass canvassing event for Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I am excited about what you are about to do here in Iowa, trying to tell the rest of the states that follow that we are ready,” Omar told dozens of Sanders volunteers squeezed into a campaign office in Des Moines, Iowa. “We are ready to elect a president that fully sees every single American.”

The assistance has come in handy for Sanders and Klobuchar, both of whom have been stuck in Washington much of the last two weeks during President Trump’s impeachment trial. Both planned to race to Iowa for their closing pitches this weekend.

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In Mason City, Iowa, former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Bill Luther dialed voters identified as being on the fence to vouch for his home-state senator.

“[Klobuchar] has realistic progressive approaches to things, and we have to be realistic in order to make this election about our vision as a party versus what we're seeing in the office right now,” Luther said, inviting those on the other end of his calls to a rally Klobuchar will hold in the northern Iowa city on Sunday.

Former Rep. Bill Luther makes calls on behalf of Amy Klobuchar's campaign.
Former Minnesota Rep. Bill Luther makes calls on behalf of Sen. Amy Klobuchar's presidential campaign from her Mason City office.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan are due to join the Klobuchar brigade this weekend.

Walz said his message would be simple.

“She gets stuff done. I’m going to go down there and tell them that this is what good leadership looks like,” Walz said. “And if you’re tired of the drama and you’re tired of all the things that are happening, this is a great choice.”

More reinforcements are on the way, including Minnesota boosters of Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Dorian Eder, of Minneapolis, is en route to Iowa on Sunday for Warren. She’s willing to make calls, knock doors, drive people to their caucus site or even watch their children if that’s an impediment to participation on Monday night. She’s already cast an early ballot for Warren in Minnesota, where she’s organized debate watches and house parties.

“I’ve done all I can do from here in Minnesota,” Eder said. “I don’t want to leave anything on the table. I want to make sure I do everything I can do to help Elizabeth Warren become the president because I think she’s the best.”

At the Sanders event, another Minnesotan, Jean Ross of Bloomington, told the crowd that his bold ideas are what the country needs on health care, student debt and other issues. Ross is president of National Nurses United, a union of 150,000 members nationwide.

She’s been in Iowa since Thursday, sending text messages and making calls to remind people of the approaching caucuses. It’ll be another month before Minnesota gets its turn on Super Tuesday.

Ross confessed to being “a little” jealous of Iowa voters.

“I can imagine everybody here thinks it’s nice to be the first. But I’m anxious to see how he does in Minnesota again,” Ross said, referring to Sanders’ 2016 run. “We won last time with him and I think we can do it again with him.”