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Democratic presidential hopefuls in Chicago this week: O’Rourke, Bullock and Biden

Chicago’s proximity to Iowa — and deep bench of Democratic donors — make the city a must stop when the glut of 2020 contenders are coming or going to the Hawkeye state.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Attend Iowa Democratic Party Hall Of Fame Celebration
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner on Sunday, June 9, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 
Scott Olson/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Three Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls hit Chicago this week for fundraising: Beto O’Rourke on Monday; Steve Bullock on Tuesday and Joe Biden on Wednesday. Last week, Kirsten Gillibrand was in the city looking for campaign cash.

Many in Chicago’s active donor community continue to be willing to donate to more than one of the 24 Democratic hopefuls in the 2020 race — even those polling in the single digits — in order to see who will surface as the strongest candidate to challenge President Donald Trump.

Democratic activist Marilyn Katz is among the sponsors of the fundraiser for O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, at the Park Hyatt, 800 N. Michigan Ave. She’s also planning on attending the Biden funder and would have attended the Gillibrand event but could not make it.

“I’ll be supporting more than one, but I like Beto a lot,” Katz said.

“… My feeling is I’m for a 100 flowers blooming at this point, because I think each of the candidates bring a new group to the party.” She added, “Each comes with their mini-constituencies we will need to gain the White House.”

Chicago’s proximity to Iowa — and deep bench of Democratic donors — make the city a must stop when the glut of 2020 contenders are coming or going to the Hawkeye state, with the first-in-the-nation presidential vote next February.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event brought 19 of the 24 contenders to Cedar Rapids on Sunday. O’Rourke vaults from Iowa to Chicago for his Monday funder.

Major fundraisers to former President Barack Obama’s campaigns are helping O’Rourke, with former Obama ambassador to Great Britain Louis Susman one of the hosts.

The wife of another Obama top fundraiser, Tamar Newberger, is also one of the sponsors for the O’Rourke funder. Before you read too much into this, Newberger and her husband, Andy Schapiro, Obama’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, in April were co-hosts for a fundraiser for South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, who made another Chicago swing in May.

Other O’Rourke event chairs include former Obama White House officials Jon Samuels and Austan Goolsbee.

The tab runs from $50 to $5,600.

Bullock, the Montana governor, is making his debut swing in Chicago this week. On Tuesday night, he will be in Highland Park for an event where the co-hosts include Democratic activist Wendy Abrams and her husband, Jim; Laura Grisolano, a college friend of Bullock’s; and Mark Segal and Kathy Paul.

Segal, a real estate executive, is taking on a major role as the treasurer of Bullock’s main presidential campaign fund, Bullock for President. The two are friends from when they both attended Claremont McKenna College.

The tab runs from $250 to $2,800.

I reported on Friday that the ticket for Biden, the former vice president, is $2,800 at the Wednesday event hosted by his long-time friend, attorney William Singer. Biden is in Iowa earlier on Wednesday.

Gillibrand, the New York senator, was in Chicago last week headlining at least two events, one in Chicago and another in Highland Park.

Mae Whiteside, the president and CEO of CKL Engineers, LLC co-chaired one of the Gillibrand event with other co-chairs, she wrote on Twitter, “Jamie Brown; Dr. Ramsey Ellis; Cheryle Jackson; Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth; and Omari Prince.”

The ticket price was $50 to $2,800.

In early May, Kamala Harris, the California senator, hit Chicago for a fundraiser at the home of Desiree Rogers, the former Obama White House social secretary and the ex-CEO of Johnson Publishing who went to lead Choose Chicago, the city tourism marketing organization.

“I am helping her in the Midwest,” Rogers told me. At this point, Harris is the only 2020 contender that Rogers, with her extensive network of women leaders, is involved with.

Rogers said co-chairs included radio executive Melody Spann Cooper; Democratic activist Linda Sher; business executive Cheryl Mayberry McKissack; and Helene Gayle, the president and CEO for The Chicago Community Trust.

A new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of 600 Iowa voters taken June 2-5, with a margin of error plus or minus 4%, puts Biden at 24%; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 16%; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 15%; Buttigieg at 14%; Harris at 7%; O’Rourke at 2%; Bullock and Gillibrand at 0.

The first Democratic primary debates will help define the sprawling field, conducted over June 26 and 27 from Miami.