2020 Democratic presidential prospects making early moves in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa – Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg zigzagged across the state in one day this week to talk about renewable energy and climate change. He premiered his new film, “Paris to Pittsburgh” to a local audience here. A few months earlier, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker came here to tout his … Continue reading “2020 Democratic presidential prospects making early moves in Iowa”

DES MOINES, Iowa – Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg zigzagged across the state in one day this week to talk about renewable energy and climate change. He premiered his new film, “Paris to Pittsburgh” to a local audience here.

A few months earlier, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker came here to tout his roots and fire up the crowds. California Sen. Kamala Harris spoke there and paid a visit to Bryce Smith, the Democratic chairman of one of Iowa’s most populous counties. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden also visited Iowa recently.

Democrats mulling a run for the presidency in 2020 are already flocking to the Hawkeye State to test the waters before officially announcing their candidacy. Iowa is the center of attention right now for a long list of presidential contenders – and Democratic leaders in the state are playing a critical role in trying to figure out who should make the cut.

“If you finish in the top three coming out of Iowa, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be the nominee of the party…We don’t pick the one who is the eventual party nominee, but we do help to whittle the field,” said former Polk County Democratic Party Chairman Tom Henderson.

Should he run, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would bring limitless funding, contacts and an already structured agenda to the table to face off against Democratic rivals, who would have to announce a run shortly after the new year.

Since the midterms, potential Democratic contenders have been making moves in the state—and for good reason. Competition is expected to stack up to a massive field of at least two dozen candidates, some of whom have been focused on Iowa since just after the 2016 election.

“People don’t come to Iowa for the weather, certainly potential political candidates don’t,” joked political analyst Dennis Goldford. “Iowa is not first because it’s important. Iowa is important because it’s first. The caucus is a testing period—it’s as if you built a race car and in Iowa, you put it on the track to see how it runs.”

Bloomberg, who has not officially declared his candidacy, has been aggressive in trying to woo Iowa Democrats. He penned a guest column in The Des Moines Register, the state’s largest newspaper, before his trip to Iowa, referencing the 2020 race.

The recently re-registered Democrat has toyed with a bid for the White House for the past two election cycles, but after his $250,000 donation to the Iowa Democratic Party this year and his PAC’s $100 million investment into helping Democrats regain control of the House in the midterm elections, speculation has grown over the 76-year-old businessman’s intentions. Iowa traditionally hosts the nation’s first contest of the presidential primary season, set for February 2020.

“I’ve said I will look at it after the first of the year,” he told Fox News on Tuesday, “and we’ll see then.”

Early investments can pay off in the Hawkeye State, known to be the wheels that start turning a presidential election, propelling a candidate toward winning a nomination.

A year from now, the state will be the country’s political epicenter. But Iowa didn’t always play such an important role in presidential elections.

Iowa’s caucuses have been a source of frustration and excitement since the decision of the Iowa Democratic Party to move its 1972 caucus date, leapfrogging over New Hampshire’s primary to become the first candidate test of the presidential campaign.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter used the caucuses to boost his campaign to national recognition. Even though he came in second, the media attention he received in Iowa helped his campaign in reaching the presidency. Since then, the Iowa caucuses have become an institution, with every competitive presidential candidate making rounds through the state to gain notoriety ahead of Election Day.

It’s been debated that in 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama would not have won the presidency without winning the Iowa caucuses, having outspent his competitors by almost double in the state.

“On the day of the Iowa caucus, my faith in the American people was vindicated. What you started here has swept across the nation,” he said in a Des Moines campaign speech on Oct. 31, 2008. “So, the people of Iowa, I will always be grateful to all of you!”

Democratic strategist Roger Fisk said candidates will need to recruit volunteers, surrogates and staffers early and campaign extensively using retail, face-to-face contact with Iowa voters to have a shot at 2020.

“These are very, very savvy voters and they’re used to quizzing anyone who wants to present themselves as a potential leader of the free world,” he said. “If the voters in Iowa dig through those layers…and get down to the core of who these people are and it is at odds with who they presented themselves to be at the beginning, that individual will lose.”

Henderson added that voters in Iowa are not easily fooled.

“Sometimes you can run a candidate purely on TV commercials who is not genuine,” said Henderson. “Here in Iowa, we have a way of figuring that out pretty quickly.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Vice President Joe Biden have all visited Iowa in recent months.

Goldford said Iowa does not take its role in the presidential primary lightly. He said the state recognizes Democrats need a generational shift to new and younger leaders if they want to win back the White House.

“The lack of an obvious next in line or potential Democratic candidate means that every Democrat with aspirations believes he or she has the chance to make a go of it,” he said. “So, you have a whole host of potential Democratic candidates trying to decide whether they have enough potential support here to make the effort worthwhile.”

Whoever the Democratic Party picks as its nominee, he said that person needs to be strong enough of a candidate to compete with President Trump.

“In this case, you have an incumbent president whose instant reaction is when attacked, you strike back doubly hard,” he said. “So, the Democrats have to find someone, if they’re going to be competitive, capable of standing in the ring with someone like that.”

Allie Raffa is a multimedia reporter for Fox News based in Tampa.

Iowa father sentenced after leaving his maggot-infested son to die in hot apartment

An Iowa father will spend the rest of his life behind bars for leaving his infant son alone in an apartment bedroom for nine days while maggots crawled over the boy and E. coli infected his bloodstream before he ultimately died, The Des Moines Register reported.

Zachary Koehn, 29, was convicted last month of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death, the report said. He was sentenced Tuesday in Chickasaw County District Court.

IOWA MAN CONVICTED IN DEATH OF INFANT FOUND IN SWING

In August 2017, Koehn left his 3-month-old son, Sterling, in a baby swing in a bedroom for at least nine days with the windows covered and the door closed, according to the report.

Medics called to an Alta Vista apartment in August 2017 found the infant dead in the swing in a dark, sweltering bedroom.  (Iowa Attorney General’s Office)

Prosecutors said feces in the boy’s diaper ate through his skin, causing E. coli bacteria to enter his bloodstream and cause an infection. The hot room attracted flies that laid eggs, which hatched into maggots and crawled on the boy – while he was still alive. Meanwhile, Koehn and the boy’s mother, 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris, were caring for their 2-year-old daughter in the same apartment unit.

The boy eventually died from dehydration, malnutrition, and infection, weighing barely more than what he weighed at birth, prosecutors said.

Zachary Paul Koehn enters the courtroom for sentencing in Waterloo, Iowa. (Jeff Reinitz/The Courier via AP)

Koehn “was aware of what was going on and he chose to do nothing,” Assistant Iowa Attorney General Denise Timmins said.

Koehn’s attorneys argued he should receive a new trial because the elements of the crime were not proven at trial and his actions didn’t amount to murder, but the motion was denied.

Harris was charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death. Her sentencing trial is scheduled for late January. She has pleaded not guilty, according to The Register.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Midwest snowstorm cancels hundreds of flights as holiday weekend winds down

A massive storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow Sunday, canceling hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago and Kansas City and forcing parts of some major highways to shut down as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend drew to a close.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. were canceled.

A fast-moving winter storm is expected to blanket much of the central Midwest with snow. (AP)

FlightAware reported that 792 flights into or out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport had been canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 426 flights experiencing delays. Another 124 flights into or out of Chicago Midway International Airport were canceled, with 83 other flights experiencing delays.

Kansas City International Airport closed to arriving flights at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time due to visibility that was reduced to less than a quarter-mile. The airport re-opened to arrivals approximately four hours later.

A total of 188 flights into and out of Kansas City were canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 35 flights experiencing delays.

In St. Louis, a tornado warning was issued for an area including Lambert International Airport shortly before 5 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear how many flights were affected. The warning expired approximately 15 minutes later.

Strong winds and snow created blizzard-like conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.

By midday, the blizzard warning had extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour. On Sunday evening, the warning was extended to Chicago and surrounding counties. It was set to expire at 9 a.m. Monday.

Other parts of the Central Plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning, that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places by the end of the day.

DEADLY WILDFIRE '100 PERCENT CONTAINED' AS GRIM SEARCH CONTINUES

In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.

Traffic moves west along I-70 near Lawrence, Kan., Sunday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.

Kearney resident Amy Scott told the Kansas City Star her brother-in-law, his wife and their son were hoping to make it as far as Salina, Kan., on Sunday evening. They reported seeing numerous crashes on Interstate 70, including an ambulance that was tipped over on its side. Scott added that the group was stuck on the highway for approximately an hour and hoped not to run out of gas.

AIR FORCE FAMILY FOUND DEAD IN THANKSGIVING SUV CRASH

"They wanted to get as far as they could because they were supposed to be back to work tomorrow [Monday],” Scott told the paper. “I’m just saying prayers for them and others who have to be out on the roads. I wish they didn’t have to, but I understood why they did have to.”

Separately, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border. As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. The weather service said on Twitter Sunday night that Kansas City International Airport got 5.3 inches of snow, and at least 7 inches fell in Rockford, Illinois.

Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and southwest Iowa. By Monday morning, the storm was expected to hit parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

Schools in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois called off Monday classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Midwest snowstorm cancels hundreds of flights as holiday weekend winds down

A massive storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow Sunday, canceling hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago and Kansas City and forcing parts of some major highways to shut down as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend drew to a close.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. were canceled.

A fast-moving winter storm is expected to blanket much of the central Midwest with snow. (AP)

FlightAware reported that 792 flights into or out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport had been canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 426 flights experiencing delays. Another 124 flights into or out of Chicago Midway International Airport were canceled, with 83 other flights experiencing delays.

Kansas City International Airport closed to arriving flights at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time due to visibility that was reduced to less than a quarter-mile. The airport re-opened to arrivals approximately four hours later.

A total of 188 flights into and out of Kansas City were canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 35 flights experiencing delays.

In St. Louis, a tornado warning was issued for an area including Lambert International Airport shortly before 5 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear how many flights were affected. The warning expired approximately 15 minutes later.

Strong winds and snow created blizzard-like conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.

By midday, the blizzard warning had extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour. On Sunday evening, the warning was extended to Chicago and surrounding counties. It was set to expire at 9 a.m. Monday.

Other parts of the Central Plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning, that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places by the end of the day.

DEADLY WILDFIRE '100 PERCENT CONTAINED' AS GRIM SEARCH CONTINUES

In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.

Traffic moves west along I-70 near Lawrence, Kan., Sunday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.

Kearney resident Amy Scott told the Kansas City Star her brother-in-law, his wife and their son were hoping to make it as far as Salina, Kan., on Sunday evening. They reported seeing numerous crashes on Interstate 70, including an ambulance that was tipped over on its side. Scott added that the group was stuck on the highway for approximately an hour and hoped not to run out of gas.

AIR FORCE FAMILY FOUND DEAD IN THANKSGIVING SUV CRASH

"They wanted to get as far as they could because they were supposed to be back to work tomorrow [Monday],” Scott told the paper. “I’m just saying prayers for them and others who have to be out on the roads. I wish they didn’t have to, but I understood why they did have to.”

Separately, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border. As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. The weather service said on Twitter Sunday night that Kansas City International Airport got 5.3 inches of snow, and at least 7 inches fell in Rockford, Illinois.

Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and southwest Iowa. By Monday morning, the storm was expected to hit parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

Schools in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois called off Monday classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Midwest snowstorm cancels hundreds of flights as holiday weekend winds down

A massive storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow Sunday, canceling hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago and Kansas City and forcing parts of some major highways to shut down as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend drew to a close.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued blizzard and winter storm warnings for much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. were canceled.

A fast-moving winter storm is expected to blanket much of the central Midwest with snow. (AP)

FlightAware reported that 792 flights into or out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport had been canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 426 flights experiencing delays. Another 124 flights into or out of Chicago Midway International Airport were canceled, with 83 other flights experiencing delays.

Kansas City International Airport closed to arriving flights at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time due to visibility that was reduced to less than a quarter-mile. The airport re-opened to arrivals approximately four hours later.

A total of 188 flights into and out of Kansas City were canceled as of 9 p.m. local time, with another 35 flights experiencing delays.

In St. Louis, a tornado warning was issued for an area including Lambert International Airport shortly before 5 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear how many flights were affected. The warning expired approximately 15 minutes later.

Strong winds and snow created blizzard-like conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.

By midday, the blizzard warning had extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour. On Sunday evening, the warning was extended to Chicago and surrounding counties. It was set to expire at 9 a.m. Monday.

Other parts of the Central Plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning, that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places by the end of the day.

DEADLY WILDFIRE '100 PERCENT CONTAINED' AS GRIM SEARCH CONTINUES

In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.

Traffic moves west along I-70 near Lawrence, Kan., Sunday. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.

Kearney resident Amy Scott told the Kansas City Star her brother-in-law, his wife and their son were hoping to make it as far as Salina, Kan., on Sunday evening. They reported seeing numerous crashes on Interstate 70, including an ambulance that was tipped over on its side. Scott added that the group was stuck on the highway for approximately an hour and hoped not to run out of gas.

AIR FORCE FAMILY FOUND DEAD IN THANKSGIVING SUV CRASH

"They wanted to get as far as they could because they were supposed to be back to work tomorrow [Monday],” Scott told the paper. “I’m just saying prayers for them and others who have to be out on the roads. I wish they didn’t have to, but I understood why they did have to.”

Separately, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border. As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. The weather service said on Twitter Sunday night that Kansas City International Airport got 5.3 inches of snow, and at least 7 inches fell in Rockford, Illinois.

Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and southwest Iowa. By Monday morning, the storm was expected to hit parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

Schools in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois called off Monday classes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.