Two House Democrats who have drawn increasing notice as potential 2020 White House hopefuls after opposing their own party’s leadership are heading to Iowa.
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan will join Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos as the headliners of the annual Polk County Steak Fry of the Iowa Democratic Party in September, multiple Democrats familiar with the arrangement confirmed to POLITICO. The trips fuel speculation that Moulton and Ryan are considering White House runs.
The Iowa state party committee was set to announce the speakers for the closely-watched event on Wednesday.
The Des Moines event is a reincarnation of the steak fry fundraising event that former Sen. Tom Harkin used to host. That event was a frequent destination for presidential hopefuls. Hillary Clinton stopped by the event in 2014 in her first return to the first-voting state of Iowa since her loss in 2008. Barack Obama spoke at the event in 2006, and then he and Clinton both headlined the event in 2007.
Early trips to Iowa are frequently designed as ways to game out a potential national bid: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are both due in the state twice this summer, for example.
The Des Moines swing will be Ryan’s second in recent months.
The 38-year-old Moulton has gained attention for his criticisms of Democratic leadership in the House. He has agitated for the party to reinvent itself in the age of Donald Trump. Much of the speculation about his national intentions has been muted given his relatively low profile and youth, but the impending trip could change that.
Moulton in November supported the failed attempt by Ryan, 44, to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Democrats’ leader. The Ohio congressman has since remained a loud voice agitating for the party to reconnect with working class white voters who Trump won unexpectedly in 2016.
Now, after flirting with a bid for Ohio governor, Ryan has been weighing a presidential bid: He is due in New Hampshire for a party fundraiser this month, and recently spent time courting leading Democratic donors in Martha’s Vineyard. Moulton is due to do the same in the coming weeks.
While roughly three dozen Democrats have been included in conversations about who might challenge Trump in three years, Bustos, 56, is not one of them. The third-term lawmaker — the Heartland Engagement chair for House Democrats’ campaign wing and co-chair of House Democrats’ Policy and Communications Committee — represents a district bordering Iowa.