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  • Writer's pictureIowa Caucus Project

John Altendorf

Established in 2011, the Iowa Caucus Project boasts four cohorts of college students telling the story of the Iowa caucuses through experiencing the Iowa caucuses. Leading into the 2024 caucuses, we wanted to catch up with the 2020 Iowa Caucus Project staffers, tap into their wisdom, and see what stuck with them four years later.

John Altendorf was a staffer for the 2020 Iowa Caucus Project. John graduated from Drake University in December 2020 with a double major in Politics and Strategic Political Communication. Currently, I work in Washington, D.C. as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Brad Finstad (R-MN) with a focus on agricultural policy.

Q: What was your role with the Iowa Caucus Project?

As a member of the Iowa Caucus Project, I assisted in event coordination, including promotion of bipartisan caucus educational opportunities, community engagement, and a mock-caucus. I also joined the team in writing blog posts, focusing on the emphasis of advocacy (or lack thereof) for issues impacting Iowa farmers and rural communities.


Q: Four years after your participation in the project, what has stuck with you?

The Iowa Caucus Project epitomizes many of the reasons I went to Drake and the resulting opportunities students have access to. Through participation in the class, I received a front row seat to the beginning of the presidential selection process which I could not have received at any other institution in the country. Drake University truly became the epicenter of American politics, political leaders were not in D.C. – they were on-the-ground in the heartland hearing from Iowa farmers, families, and Drake students.


Q: Do you have an "only in Iowa" story? If so, what is it?

In January 2020, days before the Democrat caucus, President Trump held a rally on Drake’s campus. Hours before the president was set to take the stage, I received a phone call from Professor Rachel Paine Caufield, asking how quickly I could help gather a group of College Republicans at Drake Diner. Before long, a large motorcade and campaign bus rolled up to the café and Vice President Mike Pence stepped out to greet us and take pictures before heading over to the Knapp Center. He was a breath of fresh air.


Q: What words of wisdom do you have for current Drake University students anticipating in the 2024 Iowa precinct caucuses?

Enjoy the moment. It’s a rare opportunity and the exercise will only further affirm the critical importance of Iowa’s first in the nation status. Moreover, head over to the Des Moines airport afterward to get a final glimpse of the candidates before they are wheels up for New Hampshire. 

Check out where the other 2020 Iowa Caucus Staffers are now here!


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