Candidates give speeches, try to gain votes
On a bright, fall Saturday afternoon; the Polk County Democrats hosted a Steak Fry to raise money and spirits at Des Moines’ Water Works Park, an event that used to be hosted by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin until he retired in 2014.
Walking in, one of the things some event-goers first heard was the sizzle of steaks and other meats on the grill, filling the bright blue sky with faint smoke.
“I used to bring my personal grill to the events and just cook for the volunteers. That was my donation. I would buy the hamburgers and hot dogs,” said Nate Mulvhill, one of the people manning the grills and speaking about his past experiences at similar events, such as the Harkin Steak Fry in 2014.
Some of the candidates headed over to grill some steak themselves, including Fred Hubbell.
Music was playing while event goers settled into their folding chairs and on blankets in front of the stage. Young children clutched their parents’ hands, some sporting t-shirts with candidates’ names on them.
“I think it’s going to get Dems excited for 2018. There’s a lot of signs, a lot of energy, I love it,” said Caroline Closson, Candidate Services Director for the Iowa House Democrats.
Not long after the event started, an elderly woman apparently started choking on her food, and there were shouts for a doctor. Democratic candidate for governor Andy McGuire stepped in to intervene.
McGuire, a doctor and businesswoman from Des Moines, helped keep the woman breathing until an ambulance showed up.
She embraced an emotional man after the woman was carried out of the event on a stretcher.
McGuire is one of seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Nate Boulton, Fred Hubbell, Jon Neiderbach, John Norris, Ross Wilburn and Cathy Glasson.
Some Congressional candidates that spoke at the event included Eddie Mauro, Austin Frerick and Heather Ryan, after Polk County Democrats reversed their previous decision to not allow her to attend the event.
“I’m pretty excited to see Cindy (Axne) speak, because she’s the candidate I’m supporting for Congress. I’m also excited to see Nate Boulton and Fred Hubbell, because they seem to be the two really big governor candidates right now,” said Drake University student Clay Pasqual.
Most of them made speeches punctuated by hand gestures, their backs to the huge flag hanging as a backdrop. The audience met candidates with applause, and the occasional cheer. When gubernatorial candidate John Norris took the stage, a group of people in front leaped up, waving the letters of his last name in the air.
“Democrats make the best deals. After all, Democrats passed the New Deal, and now Democrats are fighting for a better deal,” said congressional candidate Frerick.
Frerick, a former economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, also discussed breaking up Monsanto’s seed monopoly.
Many of the candidates’ speeches mentioned women’s rights, immigrants, social welfare programs and the economy.
What Voters Are Looking For
A few event-goers walked around the crowd, waving white flags emblazoned with the words, “talk climate.”
“I’m motivated by trying to get candidates to speak about climate change. The motto we’re working on is, if they don’t name it, they can’t vote on it,” said Channing Dutton, who is a part of Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Des Moines.
Dutton believes that if candidates don’t talk about climate change, then the media won’t – and will prevent more people from learning about it. Dutton said that he works on engaging candidates about climate change issues.
“The battle is, who’s going to win their hearts and soul? So we’re starting to ramp up our efforts to say, we’re going to win this,” Dutton said.
Multiple candidates mentioned the issue of climate change in their speeches.
Towards the end of the line of speakers, event-goers started to dwindle down, carrying their signs and chairs with them, many of them smiling and talking.
Pasqual thinks the event was a good idea, and is looking forward to becoming more involved with the Democrat Party.
“Just to give Democrat activists a chance to hear all the candidates in one place and to generate enthusiasm amongst the base so they’re motivated to get out there and get the everyday Iowans that we need to vote, to vote (in) the next election,” Pasqual said.