Cream cheese- and bacon-stuffed pickles. A life-sized cow made of butter. Apple pie on-a-stick.
The venerable Iowa State Fair, one could argue, has everything. And this year, that includes Martin J. Walsh.
The Boston mayor, who last month swept through Ohio and Indiana to stump for local Democrats, is returning to the Midwest on Wednesday for a day-plus swing through Iowa, home of the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.
Des Moines, of course, it also the site of the famed state fair, where presidents, wannabe presidents and politicians of all stripes have stomped for years to press the flesh and scarf down fried fare. Walsh, with the chair of Iowa Democratic Party in tow, is slated to make the rounds, greet visitors and “help register people to vote,” according to a schedule.
In all, Walsh is packing seven events into about 24 hours. He is expected to fly into Des Moines Wednesday afternoon for a pair of events with Deidre DeJear, the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State and the first African-American nominated for a statewide office by a major political party in Iowa.
Walsh, a former labor leader, is also meeting with firefighters, holding a roundtable discussion with party leaders and US Representative Dave Loebsack, and visiting a construction site to talk with workers.
Walsh has downplayed the national travel and the boost it could give his profile, saying last month that he’s “not worried about the next step” politically but rather helping like-minded Democrats. And while Iowa is a magnet for White House hopefuls, Walsh has certainly not been among the horde of Massachusetts Democrats often mentioned of having 2020 ambitions.
But perhaps unavoidably, visits from out-of-state politicians tend to draw a raised eyebrow in Iowa. (Walsh is also planning a trip to Wisconsin.)
“All of a sudden there’s going to be people who know who Mayor Walsh is,” said Dennis Goldford, chair of the political science department at Drake University in Des Moines. He called this summer the political “preseason” — the fervor around caucuses, he said, don’t usually start until after the mid-term elections.
“But you come in, you can meet with people under the radar and you quietly try to build,” he said.
Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, said Walsh’s aides flagged him in recent weeks about his visit, making the mayor the first out-of-state pol he’s showing around the state fair this year.
“What we’re focused on here in Iowa is doing everything we can in 2018,” he said. “We’re happy to have [Walsh’s] help.”