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Erin Murphy

Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign announcement rally in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., was attended by more than 20,000 people, according to estimates.

Harris’ first visit to Iowa, a few days later, consisted primarily of a cable television broadcast from Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium in Des Moines.

The CNN town hall event was not in the classic Iowa caucus style of personal, grassroots campaigning. And there were rumbles some Iowa Democrats weren't thrilled the event was invite-only to accommodate the limited space. But other Democratic leaders said it was not a big deal, and Harris has plenty of time to make all those Iowa coffee shop stops.

Harris’ first trip to Iowa definitely contrasted with the other recent big-name Democrats to jump into the 2020 fray.

Elizabeth Warren toured western and central Iowa, visited some mid-size Iowa cities and attended some low-key events.

Cory Booker’s first Iowa trip, scheduled for next weekend, covers northern and eastern Iowa and includes "meet-and-greets," "round tables" and "community forums" in places like Mason City and Marshalltown.

Harris’ first appearance in Iowa was mostly on TV. After the CNN town hall, she popped in on a watch party nearby on campus to speak to a crowd of roughly 100 people. That was it. She didn't visit any other Iowa cities, and she didn't take part in any other forums or public events.

While some Iowa Democrats may have been put off by the strategy, there were county leaders who said it was no big deal and could actually be a wise strategy.

"An event like (the CNN town hall) gets a lot of attention," said JoAnn Hardy, chairwoman of the Cerro Gordo County Democrats. "And when she comes back to do the coffee shops, a lot of people will want to go (having seen her on TV)."

"Of course she’s running for Iowa votes, but she’s also campaigning nationally as well. So this gives her double points," Jeremy Dumkrieger, the chair of the Woodbury County Democrats, said.

The 2020 Iowa caucuses are a year away. Kamala Harris will surely be back to Iowa a number of times.

What Hardy and Dumkrieger are essentially saying is fret not, all you Iowa Democrats waiting for Kamala Harris to walk through the door. You’ll get your chance.

Told ya' so

Iowa auditor Rob Sand took something of a victory lap last week after a nonpartisan state board confirmed his take in a debate that encompassed his 2018 campaign.

Sand, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman in November.

During the campaign, Mosiman claimed that having a state auditor who is not an accountant -- Sand is an attorney -- would create higher costs for the office and Sand would not be permitted to conduct audits.

The Iowa Accountancy Examining Board wrote recently that Sand’s status as an attorney "neither violates the laws or rules administered by the Board."

"During the 2018 election season, Rob Sand’s political opponents claimed that electing a non-CPA as State Auditor would mean the Office could no longer audit, and that it would cost taxpayers millions," a news release issued last week by the auditor’s office, said.

"I campaigned on truth, I told Iowans I was telling them the truth, and now I’m glad to see that reaffirmed by an independent body like the IAEB," Sand said in the release.

Grassley's bi-partisan bills

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had the largest share of bills in the Senate with bipartisan support in 2018, according to GovTrack, a nonpartisan website that tracks federal lawmakers and legislation.

Of Grassley’s 97 bills last year, 80 had at least one Democratic co-sponsor, the highest rate in the Senate, according to GovTrack.

"Accountability, transparency and bipartisanship are necessary for good government and a functional democracy," Grassley said in a statement.

GovTrack’s annual legislative report also noted missed votes. As many Iowans know, Grassley’s voting record is impeccable: He missed zero votes in 2018 and has not missed any since 1993, when he was in Iowa touring flood damage.

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Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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