With a Senate victory already under her belt this cycle, top Democratic operative Sarah Benzing is headed home to Iowa to manage the Senate campaign of Rep. Bruce Braley.
Most recently, Benzing led Edward J. Markey's victorious campaign in the June special election for Senate in Massachusetts. But she's worked for Braley before as campaign manager on his first election to Congress seven years ago and later as his chief of staff. She will officially rejoin Braley on Sept. 3 for his campaign for the competitive open-seat race in 2014, according to a news release obtained by CQ Roll Call.
"Sarah Benzing is the best campaign manager in the country, period," Braley said in a statement. "I’m so proud to have her return to lead my campaign team."
A Neola, Iowa, native and graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Benzing found her first gig in Democratic politics as a 5-year-old volunteer for then-Rep. Tom Harkin in 1982. Harkin was elected to the Senate two years later, and his retirement announcement this year opened the door for Braley's bid.
Before joining Markey's campaign, Benzing managed the re-election campaigns of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in 2012 and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in 2010. She was a national field director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2008.
Along with her work for Braley, Benzing has had Iowa experience working as a field organizer for Vice President Al Gore in his 2000 presidential campaign and canvass director for the 2002 Iowa coordinated campaign.
"There’s no other campaign manager in the country with her deep Iowa roots and knowledge," Braley said. "She’s proven her ability to build a strong grassroots organization, and there’s no one better prepared to help me introduce myself to more Iowans and discuss my efforts to be an Iowa problem solver.”
Braley is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. There are at least seven vying for the GOP nomination — a primary contest that could end up decided by a convention — in a highly targeted race for Republicans.
The race is rated Lean Democrat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.