19 Democratic candidates converged in Cedar Rapids, IA this weekend for the Democat’s Hall of Fame event and to meet with Iowans for discourse and grassroots campaigning. The state’s citizens are particularly important to presidential campaigns due to the Iowa Caucus — the first major contest of the presidential primary season, which sets the tone for both Republican and Democratic candidates’ placements in the polls. Securing enough Iowan support, even in June of 2019, would build potential to secure as many votes in the caucuses as possible.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) served Texas’s 16th Congressional District for three terms before entering the Texas senate race in 2017. Facing off against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), O’Rourke visited all 254 counties in Texas and raised over $80 million for the race — the most of any senatorial candidate in U.S. history. Despite the endorsements of celebrities and former President Barack Obama, O’Rourke lost the senate race to Cruz by a margin of nearly 3 percent: 50.9 percent for Cruz, 48.3 percent for O’Rourke.
After the race, celebrities like Oprah Winfrey voiced their hopes for O’Rourke to join the 2020 presidential race. He announced on March 14 of this year, and raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours — the most of any other candidate at the time, topped only by former Vice President Joe Biden, who raised $6.3 million.
Bet you didn’t know: O’Rourke met his wife, Amy, on a blind date in Texas and worked as a nanny for a period of time in Manhattan, NY.
Watch O’Rourke’s speech at the Cedar Rapids office opening
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
As the mayor of South Bend, IN, Pete Buttigieg (pronounced boot-edge-edge) launched his presidential exploratory committee in January as a small name to Democratic voters. As the months went on, Buttigieg garnered support rapidly as the press and public became infatuated with the candidate in March.
Watch Buttigieg’s speech at Greene Square Park, Cedar Rapids
This is largely due to the candidate’s wide range of skills and accomplishments — he speaks 8 languages (English, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari and French), graduated from Harvard College and the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, would be the nation’s first openly gay president, plays piano and guitar, served in the military in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer and attained the rank of lieutenant and was the second-youngest mayor elected in South Bend’s history.
Watch Buttigieg join the band onstage for an improvised jazz piano set in Cedar Rapids
Buttigieg entered the race staying under one percent in polls his first few weeks. He currently stands, according to a new Iowa poll, at 14 percent of the vote behind only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who stands at 15 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 16 percent and Biden at 24 percent.
Bet you didn’t know: The last name Buttigieg is common on the island of Malta, where the mayor’s father was born. The mayor also has two dogs with social media accounts, named Buddy and Truman.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Watch Booker’s speech in front of the Democrat’s HOF event in Cedar Rapids
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) — who attended Stanford University for a bachelor’s degree, the University of Oxford for an Honors Degree (Rhodes Scholar) and the Yale Law School for his J.D. — was elected mayor of Newark, NJ in 2006 detailed in the film “Street Fight,” which can be found on Netflix. Booker served as mayor until 2013, when he won a special election for New Jersey senator replacing Frank Lautenberg, who passed away in office, and was sworn in that Oct.
He was re-elected after a positively-viewed time in office to New Jersey’s citizens in 2014. While in office, Booker gained a reputation for installing “hard-edged” politics in the chamber, such as in Jan. 2017 when he became the first sitting senator to testify against another currently sitting senator at a hearing for a cabinet position when then-Sen. Jeff Sessions was being appointed to attorney general under President Donald J. Trump (Sessions became attorney general despite Booker’s efforts). He also co-sponsored a bipartisan bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) later that year — the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act — which would defend the Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether or not the president obstructed justice.
In Dec. 2018, he endorsed the First Step Act introduced by Trump, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, and added an amendment that restricts the ability to place juveniles in solitary confinement. His actions with the bill gained him support from both parties. Booker released a video on Feb. 1 this year announcing his candidacy.
Bet you didn’t know: Booker played football at Stanford University and made the Pacific-10 All-Academic team. He also appeared in a 2015 episode of the television show, “Parks and Recreation.”