Tag Archives: presidential politics

A Candidate Frenzy in Siouxland, Democratic Hopefuls Make their Pitch

8 Jan

Former vice-president and 2020 presidential Democratic candidate hopeful JOE BIDEN begins his 18-stop “No Marlarkey Bus Tour” at the Biden campaign office in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa, and will campaign in western Iowa after the Thanksgiving holiday Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.

With the new year beginning here in Siouxland as it is elsewhere, every four years the state of Iowa is blessed in being the first in the nation with its political caucus involving presidential politics. With less than four weeks remaining to make their pitch to the residents of Iowa why they should become a party’s nominee 2020 presidential Democratic candidate hopefuls are crisscrossing the state and Siouxland itself in making yet another pitch. This happened in 2015 with a large Republican field. And it’s a point of pride with Iowans that they are able to get some personal face time with national candidates wanting to tell their stories and why they should be selected to serve.

U.S. Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful waves to people who waited the better part of an hour as her campaign schedule ran behind while trying to campaign in a number of Iowa counties before stopping at a small winery in Ida Grove, Iowa Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019 after the most recent Democratic presidential debate held in December. Klobuchar is making a three-day 27 county bus tour through Iowa.


Entrepreneur and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate hopeful ANDREW YANG, center, gives a thumbs up for a supporter’s selfie as a CNN camera person does a sound check for a live broadcast interview at Yang’s campaign office in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.

Retail politics demand that candidates spend time with possible future constituents. It’s still a bit of a norm in the day and age of social media and the internet where everything is uploaded to and shared with the world. Depending on one’s definition of world, being a community, state, nation or a select sphere of people who believe in the same norms and policies.

Former Congressman JOHN DELANEY (D-MD), left, and 2020 presidential Democrat nominee hopeful campaigns during a breakfast stop at the Horizons Restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.


U.S. Sen MICHAEL BENNET(D-CO), left, and 2020 presidential hopeful campaigns at a local brewery in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday evening, Nov. 8, 2019.

Ans for all the caterwauling that other states and pundits make about Iowa getting a personal and up close look at potential candidates,  people in Iowa take the challenge and responsibility seriously. Asking tough questions about how and why a particular candidate might be worthy of their support. Unlike attendance at large “big-city” rallies or high end dollar fund raisers and dinners, the people meeting these potential Presidential persons are moms, small business owners, folk who live in a rural setting most often and in communities on average no larger than 3-5,000 people, and many times maybe only 1,200 people who live in a small town. They represent a microcosm of American life with all the ills of a larger society but often times without the benefit that is afforded to larger communities because “rich” people don’t live there and individually these folk have no sway or lobbying power than the more “affluent” try to affect to curry favor.

U.S. Sen. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-PA) and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful campaigns at the Woodrow Wilson Junior High School gymnasium in Council Bluffs, Iowa Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. All candidates are in a push to visit the state of Iowa with roughly one month left before the Iowa caucus event, Feb. 3, 2020.


Businessman and investor TOM STEYER and 2020 presidential Democrat nominee hopeful campaigns at the Sioux City Convention Center in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.


South Bend, IN, Mayor PETE BUTTIGIEG, and 2020 presidential Democratic nomination hopeful, listens to a woman’s issue dealing with Social Security as he meets Iowa voters in an intimate setting at Cronk’s Cafe in Denison, Iowa Nov. 26, 2019.

The people only have their own dreams and dreams for the children to have a better life. A hope maybe that their children might pursue some kind of career that would keep them nearer home and not have to move away to a larger city to pursue work options and make enough money to survive, get married and start a family on their own. So the folk of these small Siouxland and other communities in Iowa feel they have a vested interest in being picky about who might represent them and others like them in the next election. And not all candidates make the cut, some falling by the wayside between the start of their campaigning in ernest and and their failing in having the funding to continue. But most try. And I find it interesting that since 2015 and the large Republican field then with the large showing of Democratic hopefuls this election cycle, running for the highest office in the nation seems to have become a bit more democratic in and of itself. Candidates can survive for a period of time on smaller donations and not just being bankrolled by wealthy individuals and corporations and others who more than likely have a more selfish interest in who gets elected. And so it goes, until Feb. 3 in Iowa, when everyone gets together in their local caucus and chooses who they would like this time to represent themselves and the candidates go forth hoping they will become the chosen one.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

U.S. Sen. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ) and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful laughs along with the audience during an introduction as he campaigns iat The Fruited Plain Cafe in Sioux Center, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 21 2019 after the most recent Democratic presidential debate held in December.


Former San Antonio mayor and secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate hopeful JULIAN CASTRO speaks on the campus of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019 as he campaigns in western Iowa.

Winter is passing, so has the Iowa Caucus, Siouxland

6 Feb

It is now February. And even though a recent blizzard dumped 14 inches of snow into Sioux City, Iowa, and more in some parts of Siouxland, winter is passing. The days are beginning to get longer.

And so too, has the Iowa Caucus event come and gone. The month of January was busy for me covering a number of presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican, visiting the Siouxland area. I have been covering them since the parade began last summer for ZUMA Press. It is fascinating and surreal at the same time to have these individuals chatting and meeting regular, everyday Iowans who take the time to attend an event. Many of them small, although as time progressed, the events grew as each candidate tried to reach more and more people to support them during the caucus event.

But now Iowa is quiet, for the most part, and the picked candidate for each party won’t return until sometime next fall when they come looking to solidify their support for the general election. The months leading up to the caucus event is an interesting time and one many Iowans cherish to meet and get to know the various candidates. And it will be another four years before the next First in the Nation event takes place again. Kind of like Leap Year. Four years to rest and recoup from this one.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Politics in Siouxland and the 4th of July, Denison

5 Jul

The last couple of weeks have been a bit busy with presidential wannabes visiting Siouxland. The last election cycle did not get that many visits from presidential candidates seeking contact with residents in northwest Iowa. This election cycle you see both Democrats, and especially the Republicans visiting and trying to connect with local residents, lining up potential supporters during Iowa’s caucus night.

I have been photographing these visiting folk and will post some of those photos a bit later. This weekend saw candidates throughout Iowa and New Hampshire walking in parades and “meeting and greeting” potential supporters. In Denison, Iowa, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) participated in the community’s 4th of July parade. Prior to the start of the parade, he told local Democrats that he loves walking in parades and has participated in many in his home state of Vermont.

But along with candidates, come the assorted allotment of media people, myself included, as I freelance for Zuma Press. It’s always interesting and fascinating in watching these people work, as a majority were from larger media organizations and travel for this type of assignment. For me, Denison was about an hour and 30 minutes from Sioux City. Everybody is vying for that shot or film footage of the candidate interacting with locals, even though the media sometimes ran interference with locals in trying to capture that interaction.

Denison is a pretty town, and has a nice downtown area. Although like many small communities, the town has its share of closed store fronts. But people love a parade and a holiday. The kids were out in force collecting candy thrown from the parade floats, as were their parents watching over them so they wouldn’t be run over while collecting candy.  With people lining the streets, residents gave Sen. Sanders a nice Iowa welcome as he passed by introducing himself.

It was a nice day to celebrate a holiday. I stayed a bit longer to photograph a some more of the parade, but had a deadline I needed to meet. This time next year though,  there will be only two candidates out stumping, and each will have considerably more media following them since the election in 2016 will be just 5 months away.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ice Cream and Art in Siouxland, Le Mars

20 May

It’s always nice to visit the community of Le Mars, Iowa. After wandering around its streets looking for images and finding new wall art that has been painted on one of the community’s downtown business wall, one can stop in the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor for an ice cream. A lot of people do, even those passing through the community visiting the state. It makes for a nice end of day journey, but then again, it might be nice to start the day that way as well.


Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographing President Barack Obama

2 Sep

This past Saturday I had the honor of photographing the arrival and departure of President Barack Obama at the Sioux Gateway Airport for the Associated Press. I use the word honor, because the opportunity to photograph a sitting President is always an honor. President Obama is not my first President. In college I photographed then Gov. Ronald Reagan who flew into Peoria, IL, to visit his alma mater, Eureka College. I remember it was a cold day and these nice gentlemen wearing sunglasses came up behind me and the reporter for the college newspaper we worked for and asked that we keep our hands in plain sight, cold or not. Later I photographer President Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 1) when he came to Midland, TX in the 80’s to talk with those people responsible for saving Jessica McClure, the little girl who fell down the well in her backyard. While in Midland, I also photographed a gentleman who later would become president, President George W. Bush, while he was running his oil business in West Texas.

While working in California, I was lucky enough to photograph then President Ronald Reagan and his fellow presidents at the opening of his presidential museum in Simi Valley, CA,while doing some work for the Los Angeles Times. I even got to photograph Margaret Thatcher who came to visit him and his wife, Nancy, after they were both out of office. Later in northern California I photographed Vice President Al Gore while he was campaigning against George W. Bush, and then later photographed President Bush and Vice President Cheney while they campaigned in Sioux City when I was formerly working for the Journal. I also photographed President Bill Clinton when he was stumping for his wife, Hillary, during her run for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

I have been lucky to meet and see other candidates running for the office of President in the past, and recently during the Republican campaigns here in Iowa. This is a lucky state in that people can get that close up and personal view of people and listen to what they have to promise and be a part of history, no matter how it turns out.

I also got to see White House photographer Pete Souza work. He formerly worked for the Chicago Tribune and is a quality photographer who is documenting President Obama‘s time in office. Mr. Souza has talked about the challenges and rewards about photographing a president and then displaying those photos for citizens of this country to see. A PBS video examines photographers documenting the lives of the presidents while in office. No matter the politics, the office of the President of the United States is awe inspiring, and children today still dream about maybe being that one person who will be president one day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Election 2012, Sioux City

22 Jun

In Iowa every four years politics is ever present. We are lucky living in this state getting to see potential presidential candidates and eventually the candidate emerge from a running field of thoughtful men and women. Each striving to put their individual mark on history, as fleeting or as lasting as it may be. I got the chance to photograph some of the Republican presidential candidates during the Fall of 2011 and then prior to the Iowa Caucus night when local delegates came together to select who they felt would share their own interests leading the country forward, writing a new chapter.

Images of the candidates as they stumped in the area to make their case to constituents and interested parties why they believed they were best qualified to lead the country for the next four years.

Jerry Mennenga, Sioux City, Iowa

%d bloggers like this: