Gillibrand, Brown Head to Iowa As the 2020 Dem Field Expands – NTK Network Gillibrand, Brown Head to Iowa As the 2020 Dem Field Expands

Gillibrand, Brown Head to Iowa As the 2020 Dem Field Expands

Two more Senate Democrats appear ready to join the 2020 fray as they head to the first stated to hold a nominating contest in the Democratic primary.

By NTK Staff | 01.11.2019 @10:32am
Gillibrand, Brown Head to Iowa As the 2020 Dem Field Expands

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are each heading to Iowa this weekend to begin to lay the groundwork for presidential campaigns.

According to Politico, Gillibrand’s trip will include “events in Iowa as well as courting on-the-ground staffers.” The outlet also reported Friday that Gillibrand just hired three senior staffers in yet another clear signal that she intends to run for president.

The new hires are veteran Democratic operatives Dan McNally, Meredith Kelly and Emmy Bengtson, according to a person familiar with their hiring.

McNally will be Gillibrand’s campaign director, while Kelly will serve as Gillibrand’s communications director. Bengtson will be the deputy communications director, leading the digital operation.

Prior to his 2018 reelection, Brown was not really on many people’s radar as a 2020 presidential candidate, but all indications are he is serious about the effort.

Brown’s longtime aide and current chief of staff, Sarah Benzing, is expected to serve as campaign manager. That could give Brown an advantage in Iowa, where Benzing grew up. She’s already begun making calls in the state, per Politico.

“I’m from there and some of my best friends still live there, so it’s a natural network,” Benzing said of her calls in Iowa.

 A native of Neola, Benzing worked as an Iowa caucus director for Al Gore’s campaign in 1999 and later was a field and caucus director for the Iowa Democratic Party. She was former Rep. Bruce Braley’s campaign manager when he won his House seat and lost a 2014 Senate run, and she also served as Braley’s chief of staff.

Though the Braley campaign in 2014 was an unmitigated disaster, most of that blame can be shouldered by the flawed candidate himself. Should Brown formally run and Benzing serve as campaign manager, the little-known senator with his own midwestern roots could exceed expectations in a very crowded field.

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