Presidental candidates' supporters here head to Iowa

  • Donald Trump waves at a campaign rally Sunday in Muscatine, Iowa.

    Donald Trump waves at a campaign rally Sunday in Muscatine, Iowa. Bloomberg News

and Mary Hansen
Updated 1/25/2016 7:58 PM

With a week to go before Iowans kick off the presidential primary season, candidates' top local supporters are heading west to help in the final days before the Monday caucus.

The lessons learned in Iowa could help presidential campaigns that survive until Illinois' primary comes around March 15.


Delegate Christopher Grozev of Chicago says supporters of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have taken van loads of volunteers in recent weekends, and Illinois Rubio co-chairman and state Sen. Michael Connelly of Lisle says he's planning to go this weekend.

Grozev says getting to Iowa gives local supporters excited to help their candidate and a chance to do something while waiting around for Illinois' vote.

"They don't want to wait," he said. "They want to help right now."

They're not the only ones.

Monday morning, the statewide coordinator for Donald Trump's Illinois effort put out a call for help in New Hampshire, saying Illinoisans can start contacting voters from home in an attempt to influence that Feb. 9 primary.

"You can make calls from home, even if you don't live in New Hampshire!" an email read. "If you have a Mac, PC, or Tablet device, we can set you up to call from home."

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And Josh Hammer, a delegate for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said he's made the trip to Iowa with several other delegates. They knocked on doors and made phone calls for the campaign headquarters using a proprietary system that helped them identify likely supporters and undecided caucus-goers.

"It was really cool to experience that firsthand," said Hammer, of Chicago.

Though Iowa has just 3 million people, its position as the first state nominating contest means results can help make or break a candidacy. Often, results in Iowa and New Hampshire -- the first primary -- winnow the field as support and funds dry up for candidates who don't place well.

So Illinois backers head across the border, lending manpower and gaining experience.

Mark Guethle, a delegate for Hillary Clinton and North Aurora resident, traveled to Davenport, Iowa, once this winter to knock on doors. He's going back.

"Iowa is a nice place to canvass. Everyone is very friendly," Guethle said.

Lauren Beth Gash of Highland Park also is a Clinton delegate and plans to volunteer in Iowa. But she doesn't think the results of the Iowa caucus will affect the primary here in Illinois, where Clinton grew up in Park Ridge.


"Illinois is pretty strongly for Clinton, who is from our great state," she said. "But it certainly would be great to have a win in Iowa."

Hilary Colby, a Bernie Sanders delegate and Aurora resident, makes phone calls to Iowans from home but says she prefers going door-to-door to calling voters.

"There tends to be more of a dialogue. If people open the door, you have a dialogue," she said. "That face-to-face interaction is so different."

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