Johnson County Democrats’ Fall BBQ Fundraiser to have lots of food, two (or possibly three) candidates for Congress and one presidential hopeful (Updated)

Johnson County Democratic Party Fall BBQ Fundraiser

Johnson County Fairgrounds — Sunday, Oct. 13, 5-8 p.m.

illustration by Jav Ducker

Update: On Saturday, the Johnson County Democratic Party sent a press release with an updated speakers list for the Fall BBQ Fundraiser. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is no longer listed as speaker. According to the release, her campaign will have “no speaker.”

The Johnson County Democratic Party will hold its annual Fall BBQ Fundraiser on Sunday at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. State Sen. Kevin Kinney of Oxford will be handling the grill, and Johnson County Supervisor Royceann Porter is making the sides.

Food will be plentiful, but somewhat surprisingly, presidential candidates won’t be.

The local party sent invitations to 17 of the 18 presidential candidates (Rep. Tim Ryan, who appears to still be a candidate, isn’t listed in the party’s barbecue press release), but just one accepted: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Other campaigns are sending speakers to the event. The biggest name among those campaign surrogates is Deidre DeJear, who is speaking on behalf of Sen. Kamala Harris.

DeJear was the 2018 Democratic candidate for Iowa Secretary of State, and is now state campaign chair for the Harris campaign. The California senator was one of the national Democrats who came to Iowa to campaign for DeJear.

The Biden campaign is sending a Michigan state legislator, Joe Tate, and Parkland, Florida mayor Christine Hunschofsky will be speaking on behalf of her fellow mayor Pete Buttigieg. Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking a different approach, sending comedian Amir Zahr to speak for him.

Four candidates — Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang — haven’t yet identified who will be speaking on their behalf. Five candidates — Sen. Michael Bennet, Gov. Steve Bullock, Julian Castro, John Delaney and Beto O’Rourke — won’t have anyone make speeches. And three — Joe Sestak, Tom Steyer and Marianne Williamson — never responded to the invitation sent by the Johnson County Democrats.

Several of the candidates not attending the barbecue are scheduled to appear at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union presidential candidate forum in Altoona, which is also on Sunday.

Last year’s Fall BBQ Fundraiser had a better turn-out of presidential hopefuls.

Gabbard and Yang attended, as did Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington. Merkley was considered a likely 2020 presidential for years, but announced in March this year that he wouldn’t run. Inslee, on the other hand, launched a presidential campaign in March. He withdrew from the race five months later.


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In addition to Gabbard and the various campaign surrogates, two of the Democrats running Congress — Rita Hart, who is seeking to replace Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s 2nd House District, and Senate candidate Michael Franken — will also speak at the barbecue. Another candidate for Senate, Eddie Mauro, is listed as “not confirmed, but wants to speak.”

The Fall BBQ is the Johnson County Democrats’ biggest annual fundraiser. Tickets for the two-hour event are $25, and can be purchased online.

The three-hour Johnson County Democratic Party Fall BBQ Fundraiser starts at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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