GOOSE LAKE — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making his first-ever stop in Iowa at a Goose Lake ballroom. For Jean Pardee, organizer of the Clinton County Democrats Hall of Fame event on May 17, it's a major stump considering the senator has alluded to a presidential campaign in 2016.
"He has talked about the possibility of running for president, which is especially intriguing to Iowa Democrats because this is where it starts," Pardee said. "He has not said that's what he's doing, but it adds interest and intrigue."
Sanders will join U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa; state Sen. Jack Hatch; state Rep. Mary Wolfe; Clinton County Supervisor John Staszewski; Sheriff Rick Lincoln; County Auditor Eric Van Lancker; and county candidates Jim West and Maggie Stafford at Goose Lake's Millennium Ballroom starting at 5 p.m. The Hall of Fame dinner will begin with a social hour with speeches from Hatch and Loebsack. Sanders will deliver the keynote speech during dinner, honoring local Democratic party contributors Doug Yegge, and Donald and Marcia Flory.
The event serves as an opportunity for voters to meet with pivotal candidates in both the near and distant future. Hatch, who represents constituents in Des Moines, is a lead challenger in the race for governor against incumbent Terry Branstad.
"He's not as well-known over here on the east side," Pardee said of Hatch. "He knows he needs to get out and meet the Democrats over here."
She also praised Loebsack's commitment to meeting his electorate. Saturday marks the second time the Congressman has visited the greater Clinton region this week.
"It's just an indication that Dave Loebsack realizes he's a representative of the people," Pardee said. "He wants to meet and greet them and hear what they have to say. A lot of members of Congress do not do that anywhere near to the degree that Dave Loebsack does."
Pardee said she's expecting at least 220 people to attend. Tickets are $30 apiece for dinner, $15 to attend the speeches. Money raised will go toward promoting the Clinton County Democratic Party.
"For people locally in Clinton County, it should be meaningful," Pardee said. "This is probably the biggest crowd we've ever had for one of these events. And we've managed to have some pretty impressive people."