The once-crowded Democratic primary field is narrowing down, with the race increasingly looking like a contest between Former Vice President Joe Biden, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Of the four top contenders, two — Sanders and Warren — are stuck in the United States Senate, fulfilling their constitutional duty as jurors in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. This has complicated the race. According to a new report from The Hill, the senators stuck in the nation’s capital are increasingly relying on surrogates to campaign for them.
In this regard, Sanders — who has been surging in the polls — appears to have a slight advantage, given that a number of prominent figures have endorsed him, and because he has a strong ground game in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, famous filmmaker Michael Moore, and others have been deployed to the Hawkeye State to help support the senator.
In Iowa, the Sanders campaign employs a paid staff of more than 250, and thousands of unpaid volunteers are thought to be campaigning and canvassing for the Vermont senator.
Warren has also dispatched a number of surrogates to the key early state, including Rep. Deb Haaland of Arizona and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
Hey Iowans! Join me and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tonight for a Bernie for President rally at the University of Iowa, 8pm, at the college Union auditorium. Mike Posner will perform. We’re all happy 2 be here to stand in for Sen. Sanders as he does what we need him 2 do in DC! pic.twitter.com/rLv2syTmuZ— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 25, 2020
Warren has a smaller operation than Sanders, with 150 paid staffers across 26 field offices. However, according to local officials, her staffers have “deep ties” in Iowa, which could conceivably make up for the difference in numbers between her and the Vermont senator.
As Warren supporter Peter Leo, chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Party, suggested, staff, surrogates, and volunteers could make all the difference.
“The more staff you have, the more volunteers you can recruit, the better chance you have of keeping your candidate top of mind, even if they’re not here making news in the state or holding events,” he said.
To make up for not being able to campaign in Iowa, Warren has been calling local radio and TV stations, trying to maintain a presence in the state. According to her communications director Jason Noble, however, “Elizabeth is the best advocate for herself and her ideas, and of course we wish she was able to be here more.”
“But the organizers’ job is to capture and direct all the support that exists, and we trust our team to excel at that whether our candidate is here or not,” he noted.
With less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg expressed confidence that he was ‘days away’ from reaching a ‘historic finish’ pic.twitter.com/83euAFQNYH— Reuters (@Reuters) January 24, 2020
Biden and Buttigieg have taken advantage of the situation. The former vice president has been barnstorming in Iowa, and he is set to embark on a bus tour in the state. Meanwhile, the former South Bend mayor is scheduled to attend 10 town halls over the next two days.