DES MOINES, IA - The highest-ranking woman Democratic elected official in Iowa endorsed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday, adding onto the pile of endorsements in the state despite Bernie Sanders’ marked popularity and the potential entrance of Joe Biden into the race.
On Monday, Iowa State Senate President Pam Jochum, in a Des Moines Register editorial, became the 18th legislator to toss her early support behind Clinton. Jochum, a longtime legislator from Dubuque, chaired Barack Obama’s leadership team in 2007 in the area.
“These are leaders in Iowa who folks trust,” Lily Adams, Clinton’s communications director in Iowa, said on Monday. “These are the local leaders or statewide leaders who are putting their name behind Hillary because they trust her to get things done for Iowans.”
Though Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton by 11 percent among Iowa Democrats in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released on Sunday, the underdog candidate has yet to secure an endorsement from a current Iowa state legislator or statewide official - though the campaign notes he does have support of several local officeholders and former legislators.
Sanders’ state director, Pete D'Alessandro, pushed back against the notion that the counting of endorsements accurately reflects the state’s eventual pick at the caucus.
“An Iowa caucusgoer isn’t going to be affected by an endorsement--from a state rep to a congressman. There is a movement going on right now in this country, and we’re seeing it here in Iowa,” D’Alessandro said.
“Iowa caucusgoers kick the tire and look at these situations. They make the decisions because they look at the issues.”
Clinton also won over Attorney General Tom Miller and Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald—both Obama supporters in 2008. Former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who previously served as governor of Iowa, also backed Clinton this summer.
But the other Democrat now attracting a notable list of support is Joe Biden. Nine legislators are now supporting the Draft Biden effort.
The group continues to court the support of elected officials in the state despite the lingering answer of whether the vice president will even enter the race.
“Because Vice President Biden has such deep friendships and relationships in Iowa, we’re asking people to remain open,” Ellen Goodmann Miller, Draft Biden’s Iowa state director, said on Monday. “Absolutely once a decision is made, people can go with Clinton or Sanders, but for now, we’re asking people to remain open.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley also has three state legislators in his corner.
Nearly two-thirds of Democrats in the Iowa General Assembly remain uncommitted.
But to date, the disparity in endorsements between Clinton and Sanders in Iowa is reflected by the even bigger gap among elected officials in the United States Congress.
In the U.S. Senate, 30 of the 44 Democratic members have formally endorsed Clinton’s run, including Sander’s fellow senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy. And she has the support of more than 100 House members.
Sanders, meanwhile, has zero backing in Congress.