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Presidential Campaign Staffers, Activists To Face Off In Dodgeball Competition

Presidential staffers and political activists are gearing up for a friendly dodgeball competition.

Presidential campaign staffers and political activists are facing off in a different kind of competition Saturday – dodgeball. While the event is a matter of Iowa caucus organizing, it’s also about friendship.

Some of the leading presidential campaigns have fielded teams for the dodgeball tournament at the YMCA in Des Moines, with teams representing Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, as well as South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Some campaigns recruited enough staffers to fill multiple teams; O’Rourke and Biden each have two teams while Booker and Warren each have three.

Organizers say fieldeing more and more players became its own kind of ground game competition. Activist Amanda Wager is putting on the event, which will also serve as a fundraiser for the organization Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors.

“When other teams started seeing that there was more than one team for one of them, I’m not going to mention which one had more than one team first, then yeah it kind of become somewhat of a competition. I got more people being like, ‘Hey we can grab this team and this team,’” Wager said. “And I was like, ‘oh, perfect!’ More participants!”

But overall Wager says the tournament is about Friendship 2020 – a kind of bonding among staffers regardless of which candidate they work for.

“So I’ve gotten to know a lot of the campaign staffers pretty well and noticed the camaraderie amongst them and how helpful they were to each other. And that’s at all levels, I mean there’s state directors that help state directors,” Wager said. “It’s rather amazing to witness.”

Campaign workers representing a number of different presidential candidates have made a habit of meeting up after hours on Thursday or Friday nights, and share photos on social media of themselves or their candidates palling around, with the hashtag #Friendship2020.

Based on her experience as a campaign worker during the 2018 midterms and now volunteering on different campaigns in the lead up to 2020, Wager says something feels different this year.

“I would say this is one of the first years that I’ve noticed a true friendship amongst them. Of course they’re always amicable and get along and whatnot at events,” Wager said. “But this is the first time that I’ve noticed where there is an effort to go above just being amicable.”

The state Republican Party and elected officials were invited as well, but at press time they hadn’t confirmed if they’ll join.

If you go:

What: Friendship 2020 Dodgeball Tournament

When: Saturday August 3rd from 6 pm – 9 pm

Where: YMCA of Greater Des Moines

501 Grand Ave. Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Handicap accessible parking available on Grand Avenue between 4th and 6th Avenues

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter