Despite yet another rainy afternoon, staffers and volunteers of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren‘s presidential primary campaign spent Friday preparing for the grand opening of its office in Dubuque.

About an hour ahead of start time, two young men set up an event tent near the entrance of Suite 5 of 3250 Kennedy Circle — directly next to the American Nails salon. Inside, a dozen or so staffers and volunteers buzzed about, putting the finishing touches on decorations, refreshments or tables and chairs for the opening party.

The handmade posters and tools pop with character. A calendar grid in blue tape marks the wall directly across from the front door, Post-It notes marking important dates. Hand-cut construction paper counties make a map of eastern Iowa, from Winneshiek to Clinton. Over the lobby’s coffeemaker — a Mueller — is a DIY sign that reads “We like our coffee like we like our unions: strong.”

“We don’t dictate to them how to decorate or how it should look,” said Warren’s Iowa spokesman Jason Noble. “Our organizer teams know their communities, the activists and caucus goers on the ground. They know what will make them feel comfortable.”

Of the 24 candidates currently in the Democratic primary, Warren’s is only the second campaign to establish a brick-and-mortar base in Dubuque.

Maryland U.S. Rep. John Delaney has had one for months. Rather than in a strip mall on the city’s west side, Delaney’s team is right downtown, at 1735 Central Avenue.

Its decor is a bit more spartan. Inside, caucus cards and paperwork sit on folding tables dotting a large, open room. Delaney campaign signs taped to the walls and front windows are the only clear indicator that it is a campaign office.

Already established, the one permanent staffer of the Delaney office was out canvassing Friday while the Warren camp settled in. Delaney’s campaign set up eight offices across Iowa between January and March and has gotten significant mileage from the fact that Delaney is the only candidate yet to visit all 99 of the state’s counties.

Getting an early start may have gotten the Dubuque team in a little trouble, though, as its office is now a little difficult to get too. After the doors opened, the city began construction on Central Avenue and continued work on 17th Street right outside its door. The sidewalk in front of the office is closed at its 17th Street entrance.

Besides getting good coverage across the first-in-the-nation caucus state, Delaney’s state director Monica Biddix said Dubuque is a key city this election.

“Dubuque and its surrounding areas are must-wins for any candidate running for office in 2020, and even more critical for presidential candidates,” she said in an email. “Some candidates in 2016 made major mistakes by bypassing and ignoring communities along the Mississippi River.”

While just two campaigns have a place to hang their hats so far, the majority of them have a permanent, or at least regular, presence in Dubuque, according to Dubuque County Democratic Party Chair Steve Drahozal. And for his purposes, there’s little difference.

“The organizers do just as well,” he said. “But the campaign offices they open up make it a little easier for people who aren’t as connected with the central party get to a hold of them,” Drahozal said. “It can help them find the candidates.”

He also said the offices can ease some of the burden from local organizers whose houses campaign staffers otherwise use as makeshift offices.

With more campaigns opening offices across the state, the Iowa Democratic Party has begun to compile a list of which candidates have sites in which cities.

“We are building that out as we speak,” said Jacob Madden, an executive assistant at the state party office. “As people are opening and people like (this reporter) are starting to call and ask, we’ve recognized the need for a list like that.”

GRASSLEY TARGETS SHELL CORPORATIONS

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced legislation this week to make it more difficult for criminals and foreign entities to hide assets from law enforcement and tax authorities, according to a release.

The True Incorporation Transparency for Law Enforcement Act, co-introduced by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, would require states to obtain information on the true owners of corporations and LLCs formed within their borders.

“Anonymous shell corporations have long been used to conceal the identities of fraudsters, tax cheats and even foreign entities running afoul of the law,” Grassley said in the release. “Greater transparency can prevent these abuses of our incorporation system.”

FINKENAUER GETS BIODIESEL CREDIT

U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, secured a tax credit once again for the biodiesel industry, central to Iowa’s economy.

The Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act returned tax credits for biodiesel producers which had been allowed to lapse in 2018.

“This extension should never have been left to expire last Congress,” Finkenauer said in a release. “I’m hopeful that we’ll see progress on an issue that’s vital to Iowa’s economy, at a time when farm income is at its lowest point in more than a decade and our farmers and working families are bearing the brunt of the Administration’s continuing trade war.”

ILLINOIS DELEGATION WANTS BETTER BROADBAND MAPS

The entire Congressional delegation from the state of Illinois last week sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission insisting on more-accurate broadband maps of the U.S.

The letter claimed that due to inaccuracies and a lack of detail in current maps, many underserved areas, including many rural communities in Illinois, could go without critical funding to improve broadband services.

“As we work to repair and rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, we must ensure that those in rural America have access to high-quality and reliable fixed or mobile broadband,” the letter read.

CALENDAR

  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at Junction 21, 7653 Old Hwy. Rd., Peosta — The Dubuque County Democratic Party will hold a watch party for the first night of the first 2020 Democratic Primary debate.
  • 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at Denny’s Lux Club, 3050 Asbury Rd., Dubuque — The Dubuque County Democratic Party will hold a watch party for the second night of the first 2020 Democratic Primary debate.
  • 7 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at Tabor Home Winery, 3570 67th St., Baldwin, Iowa — Delaney will hold a fundraiser with Jackson County Democrats.
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