Richard Bender grew up in New York City, coming to Iowa as a graduate student in biochemistry at ISU in 1967. In 1970, he joined the staff of the Iowa Democratic Party where, in addition to campaign activities, he was an architect of the modern Democratic caucus system. He became a special assistant to Senator John Culver in 1975. Richard was on Tom Harkin’s staff from 1977 till 2013. He was his senior legislative assistant, focused on appropriations, taxes, economic development and infrastructure. Throughout his years in Congress, Richard remained involved in the Iowa caucus process and deflected various efforts to replace Iowa’s first in the nation position.