Interest Groups  |  IOWA CAUCUSES page  

Interest Groups in the Iowa Caucuses

(updated December 29, 2015)

Groups pushing a diverse range of issues and political perspectives have staff and supporters on the ground in Iowa.  They are attending candidate events and asking questions, tracking candidates, and inviting candidates to events of their own.  The odds are that there are representatives of one or two of these groups at almost any candidate event.  Some of the groups have multiple staff and and an office (or offices), while others are overseen by a consultant or consultants.  Some have parallel efforts in New Hampshire, and less often in South Carolina and Nevada.  If you see any groups missing please email
See also: Press Releases

America Rising


American Bridge 21st Century
multiple trackers


Headquarters:  600 East Court Ave., Suite 100, Des Moines, IA  50309
"AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people age 50 and over have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole, ways that help people 50 and over improve their lives."     "AARP is engaging candidates and voters in discussions on how to strengthen Social Security..."

State Director  Kent Sovern

(July 2011)  President of New Iowa Group, Jan. 2008-July 2011; also executive director of the Iowa Parks Foundation, Dec. 2008-June 2011.  Executive director of the Des Moines Higher Education Collaborative, Dec. 2004-Dec. 2007.  Senior vice president at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, 1994-2004.  Masters in education administration from Iowa State University, 1979; B.S. in elementary education from Culver Stockton College, 1973.  @ksovern

AFSCME for Hillary

Offices:  Des Moines and Ames  ...reported by DMR on Nov. 17, 2015

Alzheimer's Association
"We are growing a movement across Iowa with advocates sharing their stories with the presidential candidates, the media, and circulating our petition. When presidential candidates travel around Iowa we want them to be thinking about Alzheimer’s disease and how their presidencies could directly impact the goal of finding a treatment or cure by 2025. Ultimately, we want to know what each candidate will do to commit their administrations to ending Alzheimer's if elected."

Caucus Project Coordinator  Emily Holley

(March 2015)  Clerk for state Sen. Rob Hogg, Jan.-May 2011.  Regional organizer for One Iowa, Sept. 2009-June 2010.  Field organizer for the Obama campaign in central Minnesota (2nd CD), June-Nov. 2008.  Iowa political organizer for the Arab American Institute, May 2007-Jan. 2008.  M.P.A. in public policy analysis, health care from Drake University, 2015; B.A. in political science, sociology from Luther College, 2007. @emilyholley

American Friends Service Committee - Governing Under the Influence (GUI)

Headquarters:  4211 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312
AFSC's "Governing Under the Influence" project seeks to highlight "the corrupting influence of corporate dollars in the political process and in policy making."  The effort is focused on the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and is built on grassroots engagement and education.  Staff and volunteers "bird dog" potential candidates and candidates at events on the campaign trail, asking pointed questions and reporting the reponses.

Program Coordinator  Kathleen McQuillen

McQuillen has worked for 22 years with AFSC focusing on immigrants' rights and peacebuilding.  Previously she worked in factories and was active with the United Steelworkers and the Iron Workers Union.  Graduate of Upper Iowa University.

Grassroots Education Coordinator  Kevin Rutledge 

(Oct. 2014)  Also a youth counselor at Woodward Academy from Aug. 2012.  B.S. in sociology and criminal justice from Iowa State University, 2012.  @krutledge711

Americans for Peace Prosperity and Security (APPS)
"We will identify, educate and activate citizens on timely foreign policy issues. APPS will be the only organization connecting top foreign policy and business leaders with the grassroots activists driving the debate with the candidates in early presidential contest states. We seek to impact international engagement with a local, grassroots understanding. At forums and townhalls in these states, educated, volunteer activists will push candidates to fully outline their policies on major issues such as Iran, Russia and China to ISIS, space and cyber."

Iowa Advisory Board

(announced Feb. 5, 2015) includes
Lt. General Ron Dardis, former Adjutant General, Iowa National Guard (1999-2009) (Johnston)
Dr. Sam Clovis, retired Colonel, U.S. Air Force; 2014 Republican nominee for Iowa State Treasurer (Hinton)
Matt Strawn, former Chairman, Republican Party of Iowa (2009-2012) (Ankeny)

Americans for Prosperity Iowa

Headquarters8033 University Blvd., Clive  |  @afpiowa
AFP Iowa has over 45,000 activists across the state who take action every day on behalf of the free market movement and influence decision makers. Whether it’s calling members of Congress, gathering with fellow activists, or attending an event in their community—AFP activists are making a difference in the fight against big government on the local and national level."

State Director  Drew Klein

(announced as state director on Nov. 12, 2014)  Klein was previously deputy state director from May 2014, and he ran AFP's 2012 field effort, starting in March 2012.  Faith leader on Michele Bachmann's Iowa Caucus campaign.  Organizational director for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.  B.A. in political science from Drake University, 2009.  Iowa native, born and raised in Newton.  @Klein_Drew

America's Renewable Future, Inc.

americasrenewablefuture  |  @AR-Future  |  facebook
"America’s Renewable Future is a coalition of companies, organizations and individuals, committed to pushing presidential candidates in both parties to support the commonsense, bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard."


Annette Sweeney (R), former state representative
Patty Judge (D), former lieutenant governor
Bill Couser, Iowa renewable fuels industry leader

Eric Branstad

Owner and partner at Matchpoint Strategies, a public relations and fundraising firm in Des Moines, from May 2011.  Partner at Goldfinch Development proudly presents Thinklite USA.  @ebranstad

Derek Eadon

Founder/principal at Bluprint Strategies from Aug. 2013.  Senior account executive at LS2group, March-Aug. 2013.  Iowa general election director for Obama for America after serving as OFA's Iowa caucus director.  Eadon directed Iowa Democrats' 2010 Coordinated Campaign.  Iowa state director for Organizing for America in 2009.  In the 2007-08 cycle he was the first field organizer hired in Iowa for Obama's campaign, and continued on the campaign through Nov. 2008.  In 2006 he was a field organizer for the Iowa Democrats' Coordinated Campaign in the Cedar Rapids area.  Attended the University of Iowa.  Originally from Elmhurst, Ill.  @derek_eadon

Concerned Veterans for America

"Our mission is to advocate for policies that will preserve the freedom, prosperity and liberty that we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend. The goal of CVA is to translate the experience, concerns and hopes unique to veterans and their families into a common vision of freedom. We apply this unique perspective to speak out on the issues that threaten to cripple not only our economic freedom and national security, but also the spirit of opportunity and liberty that Americans cherish... 

"CVA believes that veterans and military families deserve to hear—face-to-face—from America’s leading policy makers and stakeholders. While there are many who would like us to think that care for military veterans is getting better, they are wrong – it's getting worse. That is why now, more than ever, it is important to ask our policy leaders the questions that matter to the veteran community."

State Director  Flora Schmidt

(June 2015)  Advisor and consultant to IWLC - Iowa Women Lead Change; Taylor for Iowa, 2012-May 2013.  Executive officer at Home Builders Association of Iowa, March 2002-June 2012.  Marketing consultant for Manchester Golf Club, 2000--02.  Executive director of the Iowa Plastics Industry Consortium, 1999-2001.  Executive director of the Manchester (IA) Area Chamber of Commerce, 1992-99.  B.A. from Iowa State University.  @FloraASchmidt

Concerned Women for America

Headquarters: P.O. Box 616, Ankeny, IA  50021  |  facebook
"Our vision at CWA of Iowa is for Godly, committed men and women to come together to pray for our state leaders. We are engaged in a culture war to restore and strengthen the traditional family to its created purpose."

State Director  Tamara Scott

Scott is the RNC committeewoman from Iowa and is a lobbyist ("family advocate") for The FAMiLY Leader.  @TamaraScott16

Every Child Matters in Iowa

Headquarters: 400 E. Court Ave., Suite 126, Des Moines, IA  50309  |  @ECMIowa
"Every Child Matters in Iowa, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, is working with individuals and loal and statewide groups to spotlight children's issues and help ensure that every child has what he or she needs to grow up healthy, safe and well-educated."

State Director  Kelli Soyer

(March 2015)  Did work relating to the Affordable Care Act to Jan. 2015.  Executive director of the Iowa chapter of the NASW from May 2006-2013.  Policy associate at the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines, April 2004-May 2006.  M.S.W. from University of Iowa, 2003; B.A. in psychology from the University of Iowa, 1994.  @KelliSoyer

Field Organizer  Jill Applegate

(March 2015)  Also acting team lead and sales associate for Vera Bradley from July 2013.  Community engagement specialist and public ally for the Des Moines Community Action Agency, Nov. 2013-March 2015.  B.A. in sociology and B.S. in psychology from Drake University, 2013.  Originally from Spencer, Iowa.

The FAMiLY Leader  |  @thefamillyleader  |  facebook
"The FAMiLY LEADER champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family. Our goal at The FAMiLY LEADER is to honor and glorify God – not a political party, not a candidate, and not a program. The FAMiLY LEADER is a Christ-centered organization that leads with humility and service to strengthen and protect the family."
  - Engage churches, civic influencers, and Christian citizens with truthful, consistent information

  - Equip pastors to address social issues from a biblical perspective
  - Strengthen marriages through marriage mentoring and education
  - Protect and defend family values by influencing public policy, campaigns, and elections
  - Provide free legal counsel to families, churches, and schools in cases of religious discrimination
  - Develop civic, church, social, and family leaders, including the cultivation of Christian statesmen

President and CEO  Bob Vander Plaats

(from Nov. 2010)  Candidate for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination, finishing second to Terry Branstad, 50.3% to 40.9%.  Iowa state chair on Mike Huckabee's 2007-08 Iowa caucus campaign.  Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2006, after competing against Jim Nussle for the 2006 Republican gubernatorial nomination.  Candidate for the 2002 Republican gubernatorial nomination, fnishing third: Doug Gross, 35.9%, Steve Sukup, 32.4%, Bob Vander Plaats 31.7%.  President of MVP Leadership, Inc.  President and CEO of Opportunities Unlimited (rehabilitative services to young adults) from 1996.  Principal at Sheldon High School.  Principal at Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn High School.  Teacher and coach at Jefferson High School.  Teacher at Boone High School.  Undergraduate degree from Northwestern College in Orange City.  Masters and specialist degrees in educational leadership from Drake University.  Author of Light from Lucas (Tyndale House Publishers, Feb. 2007) and If 7:14…An Urgent Call for Revival…It’s Time (2013).  @bobvanderplaats

First Budget 
"First Budget is raising public awareness of the dangers posed by the nation’s unsustainable budget policies and making solving this problem a high priority for the 2016 presidential candidates, focusing on the early nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire."  [First Budget is joint effort by Concord Coalition and Fix the Debt, announced Jan. 22, 2015 +]

State Director  Sara Imhof

Director of education and grassroots advocacy for The Concord Coalition from July 2008. Adjunct faculty at The University of Iowa from Aug. 2011.  Consultant to the Iowa Counties Public Health Association, Jan. 2012-Dec. 2013.  Senior analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, June 2005-July 2008.  Hospital development for the Iowa Donor Network/Iowa Lions Eye Bank, June 1994-Aug. 1998.  Ph.D. in health policy from University of Iowa, 2006.

Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition  |  facebook
"We stand for integrity in government, high moral values, constitutional authority, and Christian principles. Our purpose is to educate and influence voters and politicians to keep their commitment to both liberty and law; that America may continue to be one nation under God. We are not tied to any political party."  

President  Steve Scheffler

RNC committeeman from Iowa, first elected in July 2008 and re-elected in June 2012, based in West Des Moines.  Worked on Steve Forbes' 1999-2000 Iowa caucus campaign.  Operative for the Christian Coalition.  A key figure in Pat Robertson's 1987-88 Iowa caucus campaign, led the Americans for Robertson Presidential Exploratory Committee.  Sold insurance for 14 years.  Iowa resident since 1970.  Graduate of Nebraska Christian.

Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO  |  facebook
Affiliated membership is around 50,000 in roughly 500 locals; organized into 14 regional labor councils.  The largest affiliates are AFSCME, IBEW, USW and CWA.

President  Ken D. Sagar

President since Feb. 1, 2008.  Secretary-Treasurer of the Federation from Aug. 1997-Jan. 2008. Business manager/financial secretary of IBEW, Local Union 204, 1985-97.  President of the Iowa Utility Workers Conference from 1987-97 and President of the Iowa State Conference, IBEW from 1989-97.  Employee of Iowa Electric Light and Power Company at the Sutherland Generation Station near Marshalltown, 1975-85.  @kensagarifl

Secretary-Treasurer  Charles J. Wishman

Elected Secretary-Treasurer in Jan. 2012.  Started at the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO in September of 2011 as communications director.  Communications specialist for AFSCME Iowa Council 61, 2009-Sept. 2011.  Community organizer and lobbyist for Iowa Citizen Action Network from 2006-09.  Community liaison for the Food Bank of Iowa, 2003-06.  Currently is a member of AFT Local 716; former member of IAM Local 254, AFSCME Locals 3450 and 2023.  @charliewishman

Iowa Pays the Price  |  facebook
"Iowa Pays the Price supports increasing transparency in campaign finance, accountability for those who break the rules, and increasing participation in our democracy...  Iowa Pays the Price is a project of Issue One, a national, bipartisan organization dedicated to countering the overwhelming influence of big money on our political system."


Brad Anderson, Des Moines - former Obama for America state director and candidate for Secretary of State [LinkStrategies]
Amanda Loomis, Ames - pre-law senior majoring in economics
David Niffenegger, Des Moines - nine-year veteran of the Army Guard and Reserve and former operations director for Sam Clovis for Treasurer
Beverly Strayhall, Davenport - Democratic activist, nurse, social worker and community leader

Campaign Director  Ruth Lapointe

(June 2015)  Field organizer on Bruce Braley for Iowa, April-Nov. 2014.  B.A. in philosophy from University of Iowa, 2013. @ruth1lapointe

Iowa State Education Association

Headquarters: 777 Third St., Des Moines, Iowa  50309
"Everything we do -- from lobbying for increased school resources to reaching out to build community support for our schools -- is designed to promote and support quality education. Together, we work to make sure that Iowa's public schools remain vital and strong and that our more than 500,000 students get nothing short of the best education possible.

There are now over 34,000 education employees part of ISEA's education family. Most of our members are classroom teachers and other licensed professional staff, but we also have school support staff workers, retired teachers, area education agency employees, community college faculty, and future teachers among our ranks. We are an integral part of the 3.2 million member National Education Association ..."

Melissa Peterson

Government relations/research specialist is in charge of the ISEA's caucus project

Iowans Supporting Israel

Headquarters: 1515 Linden St., Suite 220, Des Moines, Iowa  50309  |  facebook
"As Iowa has an important role in the quadrennial selection of our President, we also have the responsibility to share what is important to us as candidates and surrogates seek our support. Establishing an effective, statewide organization in place will be important as the next election grows closer. Yet, as we understand the ongoing importance of Israel, we view this organization to be one that will be sustaining through all electoral and caucus cycles."

Board of Directors  Matt Strawn, Bud Hockenberg, Mike Schreurs, Geri Huser

League of Conservation Voters - Climate Action Iowa

Headquarters: 317 6th Ave., Suite 910, Des Moines, IA  50309
Other Office: 702 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City
@ClimateActionIA  |  facebook
"Climate Action Iowa is a project of League of Conservation Voters that will use grassroots organizing to turn environmental values into priorities for IA."

Field Director  Tim Mahern-Macias

(June 2015)  Started as a regional field director in Iowa City, April 2014.  Organizer for Physicians for Social Responsibility in the Omaha area, March 2013-March 2014.  Field organizer for Organizing for America in Tacoma, WA, Aug.-Nov. 2012.  Assistant language teacher in Japan, Aug. 2008-April 2012.  B.A. in history from Creighton University, 2007.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

"The national service organization for more than 900 not-for-profit rural electric cooperatives and public power districts providing retail electric service to more than 42 million consumers in 47 states and whose retail sales account for approximately 12 percent of total electricity sales in the United States."

Regional Manager, Rural Power Program  Sam Roecker

Roecker is a consultant at LinkStrategies in Des Moines since Jan. 2013.  Campaign manager on Dave O'Brien's campaign for Congress in the 1st CD, Jan.-June 2014.  Communications director on Christie Vilsack for Iowa, March-Nov. 2012.  Communications director at the Iowa Democratic Party, June 2010-March 2012.  New media director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, April 2009-June 2010.  Executive producer at Clear Channel Radio/Air America Radio, Nov. 2007-Feb. 2009.  B.A. degrees in journalism-strategic communications and political science from Univesity of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010.

NextGen Climate Iowa

Headquarters: 400 E. Court St., Des Moines  |  @nextgeniowa  |  facebook
"NextGen Climate is committed to fighting climate change through political action to preserve American health and prosperity for future generations.  Here in Iowa, farms and rural towns are already feeling the impact of climate change in their wallets and on their land, with record floods coming on the heels of a record drought.  NextGen Climate Iowa is here to empower our states's voters where it matters most: at the polls.  Our team is hitting the streets and listening to folks like you to help us #WinOnClimate.  We're here to show polluters and special interests that Iowa's future is not for sale."

State Director  Zack Davis

(Jan. 2015)  Started as field director for NextGen Climate, May-Dec. 2014.  State coordinator at Organizing for Action, April 2013-May 2014.  Development director for Support Siouxland Soldiers, Feb.-April 2013.  Regional field director in Sioux City for Organizing for America / the Obama campaign, 2009-12.  Field organizer in Iowa Falls on the Obama campaign, May-Nov. 2008.  Working towards an M.P.A. from Drake University; B.A. in biochemistry from University of Iowa, 2008; A.S. from Muscatine Community College, 2005.  @zack_daybees

No Labels

"The primary goal of No Labels is to start a national movement that will culminate in a Federal government that sees the presidential administration and both houses of Congress working together to achieve mutually agreed-upon goals that will solve the nation’s problems."
Four objectives:

 - Create 25 million new jobs over the next ten years
 - Social Security and Medicare for another 75 years
 - Balance the federal budget by 2030
 - Make America energy secure by 2024

Former State Director  Peggy Huppert

(March to Dec. 2015)  Senior market manager for community engagement (Sept. 2013-Feb. 2015), Minnesota state leadership director (Sept. 2012-Aug. 2013) and Iowa director of government relations (Jan. 2008-Oct. 2012) for the American Cancer Society.  State director at Iowans for Sensible Priorities, Sept. 2005-Jan. 2008.  Development director for the Iowa Association of School Boards Foundation, March 2004-Aug. 2005.  Executive director of the Chrysalis Foundation (serving women and girls in Central Iowa), Jan. 2000-Dec. 2003.  B.A. in new-editorial journalism from Drake University, 1980.
...joined Bernie 2016 as a senior consultant in Dec. 2015.

Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease-Iowa
" our nation’s leaders – including the 2016 presidential candidates – address the growing epidemic of chronic disease and highlight commonsense reforms that will help the nation address this challenge."

Co-Chairs  Cathy Glasson - president of SEIU Local 199
                   Jim Henter - president of the Iowa Retail Fedeeration
                   Rev. Sarai Schnucker Rice - executive director of the Des Moines Area Religious Council
                   Sherri Nielsen - president and CDO of Easter Seals Iowa

Protect Internet Freedom

"We are a group focused on defending a free and open Internet, and preserving it as a tool for democratic distribution of information, societal change, and technological innovation...  We recognize that the greatest threat to expanded Internet access and innovation is government censorship and red tape used to stifle freedom and creativity. Our mission is to keep that from happening, and keep the Internet free."

State Director  Katie Ussery

(started xx)  Digital sales manager for Reduce Data, from June 2014.  Screener for Nationwide Insurance, Aug. 2012-June 2014.  Youth/volunteer coordinator on McClintock for Congress, 2014.  Studied politics and history at Drake University; president of Drake Young Americans for Liberty, Aug. 2012-Dec. 2013.  @katiejoyussery

Save the Children Action Network                                                                                                        MEMO / GRAPHIC

iowa page
"Kids in the U.S. who participate in high-quality early childhood education are more likely to succeed in school and in life. We’re asking all presidential candidates to talk about what they would do to expand access to early childhood education if they were elected."

Regional Mobilization Manager  E.J. Wallace

ServiceNation Iowa
"The ServiceNation Coalition is comprised of organizations across the country united in support for national service. The Coalition is using grassroots action to demonstrate the impact of national service to our nation’s leaders."

State Director  Pete McRoberts

(from March 2012)  Attorney at McRoberts Law Office in West Des Moines from Sept. 2011.  Deputy press secretary in the Office of Gov. Chet Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, 2007-June 2010.  Rural representative for Congressman Bruce Braley, Jan.-Oct. 2007.  Candidate for Iowa House of Representatives, March-Nov. 2005.  Senate Caucus campaign manager for the Iowa Democratic Party, 2004.  Mobile office staff member for Sen. Tom Harkin, 2001.  J.D. from Drake University Law School; undergraduate degree in political science from University of Northern Iowa.  Member of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps in Denver in 1994.  From Northeastern Iowa.