Democrats test 2016 waters, even as Hillary looms

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is set to become the first potential Democratic contender to introduce herself to future caucus-goers when she delivers the keynote address Friday at the 10th annual North Iowa Wing Ding Fundraiser.

Vice President Joe Biden and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (the latter keynoted the 2012 Democratic National Convention) will be hot on Klobuchar’s heels when each appears Sept. 15 at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s 36th annual steak fry in Indianola.

And if there is any question about the significance of the 38-year-old mayor’s attendance at the event, one need only look back to the 2006 steak fry. That year, a freshman senator named Barack Obama, who was then firmly denying any intention of running for president in 2008, introduced himself to Iowa at the same confab.

“It’d be foolish for anyone who’s even kind of considering it to not start doing their homework and meeting with some of the activists around here,” said Iowa Democratic operative Greg Hauenstein. “The people who go to the Harkin Steak Fry, especially in an off-year, are the really hard-core people who you want on your side.”