First Democratic '2016-er' to visit Marion Saturday

By James Lynch, Reporter

MARION, Iowa - A potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate will make a visit to Marion Saturday to meet with a Democratic fundraising group.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will follow her Friday night appearance at a north Iowa multi-county Democratic fundraiser by attending a Linn County Phoenix Club fundraiser at the Marion home of Nan Riley. The Linn County Phoenix Club, which raises funds for Democratic candidates.

Admission is $50 for non-members. For more information, email linncountyphoenixclub@gmail.com or call 319.435.8414.

Although several potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates have made stops in Iowa, even though the state's first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses are 29 months away, Klobuchar is the first Democrat "2016-er" to dip her toe in the pond of presidential candidate speculation.

Klobuchar, first elected in 2006, will be the headliner at the North Iowa Area Democrats 10th annual Wing Ding fundraiser on at 5 p.m. Friday at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. The event will be carried live on C-SPAN from 7 to 9 p.m.

The first woman Minnesotans elected to the Senate, Klobuchar, 53, is considered a long-shot possibility for the nomination.

Working off the premise that "no politician ever goes to Iowa accidentally," Chris Cillizza, wrote in his Washington Post blog, The Fix, that Klobuchar's trip to Iowa "means only one thing: She wants to be part of the great-mentioned when it comes to 2016."

He's no fan of Klobuchar – or any of the Democrats who have announced visits to Iowa, but Iowa Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler agreed with Cillizza's assessment.

"I'm sure she's coming here to lay the groundwork in case Hillary Clinton doesn't run. If she doesn't run, (Klobuchar) wants to have a shot at it," Scheffler speculated.

Still, Cillizza ranked the former county attorney as the eighth most likely Democratic nominee in 2016 behind Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Martin O'Malley and Howard Dean. She's ahead of Elizabeth Warren and Brian Schweitzer on The Fix list.

At the Wing Ding, Klobuchar will share the stage with 1st District Rep. Bruce Braley who hopes to join her in the Senate. Candidates for Congress, governor and other offices are expected to participate, too.
The North Iowa Area Wing Ding is a consortium of seven Iowa counties -- Cerro Gordo, Hancock, Winnebago, Kossuth, Butler, Franklin and Floyd.

Friday night won't be the first time Klobuchar has reached out to Iowa Democrats. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, she made am introductory speech at an Iowa delegates' breakfast. During the 2013 presidential inaugural, she stopped by an Iowa party in Washington.

On the Republican side of the slate, there's been plenty of activity. Recently, first-term Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum and reality television star Donald Trump spoke at a gathering of evangelicals in Ames. Other potential GOP "2016-ers" to visit include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Klobuchar may be the first of the "2016-ers," but more potential candidates will be following her. Vice President Joe Biden will be visiting Sept. 15 to speak at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry, a launching pad for Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Also, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who ran a grassroots caucus campaign in Iowa in 2004, will be back Aug. 21 to speak to the Iowa Federation of Labor convention about his "Purple to Blue" campaign to elect more Democrats to state legislatures.

The visits are good news for both Democrats and Republicans, Scheffler said.

"That shows they still think Iowa is important, that the one-on-one conversations they can have here are important," he said.
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