WATERLOO — Like many caucus organizers, Rachel Cowell worked around the clock in Iowa through Feb. 1, and then moved on to another state to continue to support her chosen presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
But as the nomination process comes to an end — Democrats will formally select Clinton at next week’s convention — Cowell is back in Iowa.
And there’s no place she’d rather be to keep working to elect Clinton and Democrats up and down the ticket.
“There’s something really special about working with Iowans on electoral politics, and I know for me, coming back to Waterloo for this was really important,” said Cowell, a Waterloo native who is working as a regional organizing director based in Waterloo for the Iowa Democrats.
Cowell not only has roots in the community but she worked to elect Democrats in Black Hawk County during the 2014 cycle as well.
When it came time to decide where she would settle for the 2016 general election, Cowell said there were “some strong ‘I want to come back to Waterloo’ kind of conversations.” She’s not alone. Several Hillary for Iowa veterans are back in the state to help Clinton win Iowa in November.
While the campaign won’t discuss exact figures or strategy, Iowa press secretary for Hillary for America Kate Waters said there’s been a campaign presence since Clinton announced her bid in April 2015.
Republican National Committee Iowa Communications Director Lindsay Jancek said Republicans have more than 80 people working in the state, including some in Waterloo-Cedar Falls.
She said the Republicans’ campaign presence has predated the Clinton campaign.
“We don’t take a break from one presidential election to the next. We are continuing to build on our voter turnout, our data, our digital, and we just continue to progress,” Jancek said, adding the Republicans have been gearing up their ground game without pause since 2013.
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Both campaigns said it’s helpful to have people organizing in the state who are familiar with Iowa and, more importantly, Iowans.
Jancek said the Republicans focus on “neighborhood team leaders” so the people door-knocking in particular areas are literally reaching out to their neighbors.
Cowell said she’s seen “overwhelming support” from volunteers and other activists.
She works with hundreds of volunteers in the Cedar Valley and throughout northeast Iowa.
“We’ve been working with a lot of volunteers, both who were involved in the caucus, and who weren’t, whether it be with any candidate, or with Hillary, (and) people who are kind of new to the game,” Cowell said.
Cowell said she’s focused on not only working with active Democrats but also reaching out to voters of all backgrounds to talk about Clinton’s vision and the contrast between the political parties’ visions.
For now, Cowell said she and volunteers largely work out of coffee shops and places like that, but there will be an office opening soon in the community. Republicans just opened their local office this week.
Though the election isn’t until November, the pressure is on. Iowa has 40 days of early voting, and that begins Sept. 29, or less than 75 days.
“It’s going to be a close race no matter what, and … we’re going to work hard every single day,” Cowell said. “I’m super excited about it.”