You gotta love a small town with the trifecta of a beautiful lake, a college, and a packing plant. Storm Lake would be a household word but for the fact it’s in the middle of northwest Iowa, over an hours drive from any Interstate, and I suspect the airport can’t handle business jets. But it’s Storm Lake’s diversity, rural geography, and the fact that the local newspaper editor Art Cullen has won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the excesses of Big Ag that made the city a natural for a presidential candidate forum on rural issues.
So a bunch of organizations like Art’s newspaper, the college, Huffpost, and Farmer’s Union organized today’s major and only events on the Iowa campaign schedule. Now these multi candidate forums, steak fries, etc. generally draw just about every candidate, the weather was great today, and the floods were far away from Storm Lake… Yet only five candidates had the courage to show their face in rural Storm Lake today. Julian Castro, John Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, John Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren had the guts to show up in rural Iowa today, the rest of the herd blew off us rural democrats and we should treat them likewise on caucus night.
But first, there was the “pre forum” event over at the high school, which kinda bombed…Good idea, poor implementation= They kept the bleachers locked up while setting up risers for the video media, maybe hoping for a “mosh pit” between the cameras and speakers. Crowd looked to be less than 100 even counting the press and Liz Warren was running late, so I bailed and headed over to the “main event”.
The actual forum was much better organized, despite what looked like Huffpost’s attempts to crowd out competing media. Each candidate got about 15 minutes with Editor Art Cullen and a couple lesser known young questioners, one of whom asked some pithy questions and the other seemed to keep trying to drag the questioning off topic to the standard far left topics with little or no relation to rural issues. Here’s the staging:That’s Art Cullen on the right with Liz in the “hot seat” next to him. She was first up, clearly had done her homework, and stuck to economic issues despite the aforementioned questioner’s attempts to distract her.
Next up was Julian Castro who did OK despite being a thousand miles away from his base. Then the two lane delay factor left us with no candidates for a few minutes (campaign staffers, don’t assume you can average 70 MPH out here) ’til John Delaney arrived. John comes off as a policy wonk and junior version of Biden, ‘cept he made the mistake of voting for the “too big to fail” banks and that won’t play in Storm Lake or Peoria. John’s a long shot candidate, but he seems to be opening up campaign offices all over Iowa.
Then came Amy Klobuchar… On top of every issue, damning monopolies and promising tougher antitrust enforcement. She hit all the bases and hit it outa the park, speaking from experience on issues where the other candidates can only offer policy proposals. No surprise Amy got the best audience response. Last up was Ohio Congressmember John Ryan, another policy wonk who noted the similarities of Rustbelt and rural problems.
So as only a town with a packinghouse, college, and Pulitizer winning newspaper editor can do, Storm Lake has culled the 2020 democratic presidential; candidate cattle call from 20 odd down to five. Amy seemed the preferred candidate followed by Liz, Julian did well for a new candidate off his native turf, and the Johns showed the substatntial policy chops our democratic congressmembers have these day.
My bets on Amy!
And thanks to Iowa 4th CD candidate J.D. Scholten for keeping up the good fight: