Dems Line Up Endorsements In Iowa

This story was written by Dean Treftz, The Daily Iowan
Now, each of the three leading Democrats have received a prominent Iowa endorsement in the past two days.

On Monday, Iowa first lady Mari Culver announced she will back former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, and Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Those announcements came one day after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., received the Des Moines Register's support.

Loebsack, who is nearing the completion of his first year in Congress representing Iowa's 2nd District, which includes Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Muscatine, said his endorsement was based on Obama's ability to transcend divisive politics.

"I think he has the capability to change the way business is done," he said. Obama can "bridge the partisan divide."

He said that part of his decision came from talking to Republican congressmen who said they liked Obama, indicating his ability to work across party lines.

Loebsack is the third and final Iowa Democratic member of the House of Representatives to announce his endorsement. Reps. Leonard Boswell and Bruce Braley have previously announced their support for Rodham Clinton and Edwards respectively.

In her endorsement e-mail sent out to supporters, Culver said Edwards "has never forgotten where he came from. It is the source of his passion fighting for the middle class, for hardworking American families."

She followed the Monday morning announcement with a day of touring with Edwards, including a stop in Iowa City Monday night.

Gov. Chet Culver has said he will not endorse a candidate before the caucuses.

In 2003, Mari Culver's predecessor as first lady, Christie Vilsack, endorsed the somewhat-surprising caucus winner and eventual Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. The Register backed Edwards last time; he later surged to a second-place upset.

"Statewide, I suspect that the Register's endorsement is important," said UI political-science Associate Professor Cary Covington. Loebsack's endorsement could help Obama's organization locally in terms of volunteers and boots on the ground.

Loebsack's decision also helps local constituents get a little better feel for their new congressman, Covington said.

"We talk about members of Congress trying to create a home style in their district," he said.

Obama is perceived as a new type of Democrat, as opposed to Rodham Clinton and especially Edwards, who are seen as more combative, Covington said.

As a new congressman, Loebsack's image is not completely defined.

"He's still in the beginning stages of shaping his image," Covington said.

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