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CEDAR FALLS — As the new school year begins, Democratic presidential campaigns are gearing up on campuses.

“The students need to be engaged, and as a matter of fact they are engaged,” said Vikki Brown, Black Hawk County Democratic chairwoman.

Students on the University of Northern Iowa campus are no strangers to being involved politically. Republican and Democratic clubs were out in force during the 2018 general election and the March 19 special election.

“Those students are why we won those elections,” Brown said.

LeaAnn Saul, Black Hawk County Republic chairwoman, plans to work with UNI Republicans as the Iowa caucuses and 2020 general elections get closer.

“We’re making our plans,” Saul said.

Presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Iowa campaign is pushing a new effort to organize and reach Iowa college campuses.

“The campaign will organize on 12 Iowa campuses — with dedicated organizers for the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa,” according to a news release from the campaign.

Along with organizing, Buttigieg’s campaign has put out ads on Spotify and Pandora music streaming apps to reach college students all over Iowa.

“The 30-second digital ad spots, titled “Back to Normal” and “A Moment,” underscore the urgent action required in this moment to break from the past and put forward real solutions to the challenges facing our country,” according to the news release. “In the ads, Buttigieg says new ideas are needed because the status quo isn’t working for most Americans when it comes to an increasingly unequal economy, gun violence, and a changing climate.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also plan to establish their presidential campaigns on Iowa college campuses.

The effort likely will bring more candidates to Cedar Falls, which hasn’t seen as many candidate visits as Waterloo so far this year.

The presidential candidates aren’t alone in organizing at UNI. The progressive group NextGen Iowa held a voter registration drive on campus Friday. In 2018 NextGen registered 14,243 young Iowa voters.

The Black Hawk County Republicans also plan to work on voter registration on UNI’s campus, Saul said.

On Sept. 19, Republicans plan to hold a forum on red flag laws with police chiefs from Waterloo and Cedar Falls, the Black Hawk County Sheriff, a National Rifle Association representative and a gun dealer on a panel.

“We have a whole list of things we’re planning on doing,” Saul said.

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