The Calkins Barn in Wyoming was at full capacity Nov. 2 as Rep. Andy McKean held his campaign kickoff event.
McKean made national headlines earlier this year when he made the announcement to switch from the Republican to Democratic Party toward the end of the legislative session.
Looking out at the crowd, McKean said he was heartened by the support he saw in the room.
“It’s really quite overwhelming,” he said, looking out at the room full of supporters. “I think it bodes well for Democrats this year…I think we’re going to see a big change in 2020.”
McKean said the recent sessions had produced “some of the worst legislation that I’ve seen in my 27 years in the Iowa Legislature,” citing changes in collective bargaining, changes in how judges are selected and the failure to get anything done on Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy.
“I want to see one part of the Iowa government in Democratic hands so we can see some compromise and some common sense, reasonable legislation, which I believe is what all Iowans want,” McKean said of why he is seeking legislation.
Minnesota senator and presidential candidate, Amy Klobuchar, who McKean and his wife, Connie, both endorsed recently, praised McKean for his decision to switch parties during her keynote speech.
“This was a man, completely opposite of our current president, who put the interest of his state, his district and his country in front of his own interests,” she said.
Klobuchar met with McKean earlier this year when he was still weighing who to support for the nomination and the two had a long discussion about where they stood on issues. Klobuchar has also gotten the support of former Iowa state senator, David Johnson, who also switched from the Republican to Democratic Party this year.
Faith played a large part in the speeches on the night, with McKean noting how it played a role in his decision.
“One thing that has really troubled me…Connie and I are proud of our faith and we are growing increasingly weary of the Republican Party believing that they have some kind of corner on Christianity,” he said.
Iowa Auditor Rob Sand also talked about his faith and how important it was for him.
“For a couple of years, I really struggled with the idea of calling myself a Christian and I struggled with it because of the way it was represented by the people who the most visibile, the people who shouted the loudest,” Sand said, citing the example of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Sand began talking about faith more to emphasize the difference between what he believed and the loudness of some of those more vocal hateful actors. He believed there was more that united Americans today than divided them.
“The divide between our parties is not as wide, is not as irredeemable as we thought it was,” he said.
The night started and ended with music, with McKean himself getting in on the act.