When A Candidate Calls: Volunteering for Presidential Campaigns in Iowa
Every town has their local busy body — that late middle-aged woman who knows how to get stuff done. Usually that person is a staple at city council meetings or door knocks for school board campaigns. But in Iowa, that type of person gets a much higher level of influence. Enter Kathy Pearson, the perennial belle of the Republican presidential ball. Pearson is a hard worker and well-connected volunteer, making her a sought-after asset by Republican candidates. I chatted with Kathy early in the fall about her volunteer career, interesting run-ins with candidates and her thoughts on the 2016 election.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: I’m a small business owner of technical employment recruiting firm.
Q: What do you think your strengths are? What do you think it is about what your do that keeps candidates calling you for help cycle after cycle?
A: Volunteering in variety of different ways, phone banking, door knocking, whatever needs to be done. Being flexible and willing to participate. I’m consistent in being involved over a period of time and campaigns want someone who can accomplish a task from start to finish.
Q: What kind of work would you be doing if you lived in Missouri or Arizona? What does someone with your skill set and drive do in a place where national politics aren’t at arms reach?
A: Other states don’t get the attention of the early states. It’s important to be involved in community in a myriad of ways. I’m on the Goodwill business advisory committee, Kirkwood advisory committee in the business department, the state judicial nomination commission as appointed by governor, along with a few others. I spend most of my time on politics because it’s ongoing. It offers a lot of different ways for me to being involved. I like to be involved because it’s an opportunity to give back, learn, and meet absolutely amazing people.
Q: I imagine you’ve had a lot of close shaves with presidential candidates over the years – any funny or interesting stories?
A: I was the emcee for Republican women’s event, where I introduced Laura Bush! And one time I ran into Bernie Sanders walking out of the bathroom at the Iowa State Fair. It was a bit odd.
Q: Tell me about the Linn Eagles.
A: The Linn Eagles are a group of Republican voters in Linn County that was founded in 1988 to encourage Republicans to run for office. We provide seed money and support. Governor (Robert) Ray was actually a part of initial group. Our mission is to further a strong Republican presence in Cedar Rapids and Linn County. We’ve had lots of great people come speak to us; Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Meg Whitman, Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, and most recently Jeb Bush.
Ramsey is a senior public relations major with a concentration in politics. She is a proud Iowan who watches too much SNL and is the only journalism student in recorded history without a coffee habit. Follow her on Twitter.