DES MOINES, Iowa -- White House hopeful Kamala Harris has nabbed her first Iowa endorsement from a major state Democratic activist.
Jean Hessburg, a former Iowa Democratic Party executive director and the current chair of the party's Women's Caucus, told The Associated Press that she's endorsing Harris because "she's tough, she's got heart. She's quick on her feet, she's sharp as they come and great on all the issues."
The senator from California said in a statement she was proud of the endorsement.
"Women will be a deciding voice in the 2020 Iowa Caucuses and I will do all I can to earn their support," Harris said.
Hessburg hadn't spoken to Harris before she endorsed her — she saw the senator during a televised town hall and was impressed that she seemed "quite at ease with her positions ... and unflappable, which I think someone has to be against Donald Trump." She reached out to the Harris campaign and offered her support, which turned into an endorsement.
Hessburg also works as a public relations specialist for the Iowa State Education Association, one of the state's biggest teachers unions, though she's not endorsing in her capacity with the union.
She'll appear with Harris at a house party on Thursday hosted by Emerge Iowa, a group focused on recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office. Iowa made history last year by electing women to Congress and to the governorship for the first time ever. The state also elected a record number of women to the Iowa state legislature.
And female voters are a significant force in Iowa: They made up more than 52% of the electorate during the midterm general election — and nearly 59 percent of the Democrats who voted were women, according to the Iowa secretary of state.
Hessburg could be a key advocate for Harris among those voters. She said she'll do "whatever it is they need me to do" to support her campaign.