Retired Admiral Mike Franken is strongly leaning toward seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022, provided he gets "a clean bill of health" following an upcoming surgery at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Speaking to Bleeding Heartland by phone on August 4, Franken confirmed he is putting pieces together for another campaign and thinks he could "add value" in the Senate. But first, he needs to ensure he is "entirely capable of running" and serving a six-year term.
Franken would enter the race with a strong base among Iowa Democrats, having received 68,851 votes (nearly 25 percent) in the four-way 2020 primary. Nominee Theresa Greenfield benefited from massive establishment support and some $7 million in outside spending before the June election.
According to James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Franken recently told Linn County Democrats that once his medical issue is "in the rearview mirror and I get a clean bill of health and I can do pushups with Chuck Grassley, I'll do my very best to represent the state of Iowa in the U.S. Senate.”
Earlier this week, Franken spoke to Doug Burns of the Carroll Times Herald about a potential candidacy. Those comments indicate that experience and leadership qualities would be at the center of his campaign:
“I think it’s very clear looking across the national scope of things that the nation has a lot of challenges, and I believe those challenges are less economic at this stage, more rehabilitative, and we need strong leadership,” Franken said. “I think there is an element that the Senate needs to regain its footing and we need to mend between the aisle.”
Franken, who commanded 24 ships during his time in the Navy and lists policy and Capitol Hill experience on his resume, said he can confront Republicans with a “high level of morality and sensibility.”
“I would be value added from Day 1,” Franken said. “I know how the Senate works, having spent quite a bit of time there. I know the personalities on both sides of the aisle.”
During his Navy career, Franken "was the first military officer to serve as a legislative fellow for Senator Ted Kennedy" of Massachusetts. He kicked off his 2020 Senate campaign with a video emphasizing his opposition to the Iraq War in as a young captain in 2002.
Assuming Franken runs, he would be the fourth Democrat in the race. His main competition for the nomination would be former U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer, who announced last month. Finkenauer's well-known endorsers include her two former colleagues in the U.S. House, Dave Loebsack and Cindy Axne. Democrats Dave Muhlbauer and Glenn Hurst are also running for Senate.