Why Mike Franken thinks he can beat Chuck Grassley

The Democratic field for U.S. Senate appears to be set at last, with retired Vice Admiral Mike Franken’s campaign launch on October 14. Franken is the fifth Democrat to join the field, following Dave Muhlbauer, Abby Finkenauer, Glenn Hurst, and Bob Krause.

Although he got a later start than his primary competitors, Franken enters the race with a strong base, having received 68,851 votes (nearly 25 percent) in last year’s four-way primary for U.S. Senate. Nominee Theresa Greenfield benefited from massive establishment support and some $7 million in outside spending before the June 2020 primary.

During an October 14 telephone interview, Franken discussed his decision to run and his stance on some major issues of the day.

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Iowa Democrats back Deere workers, Republicans mostly silent

Prominent Iowa Democrats were quick to express solidarity with United Auto Workers members who went on strike at midnight on October 14. But Republican officials were mostly silent as Iowa’s largest strike in decades began.

The work stoppage affects some 10,000 UAW members, of whom about 6,500 are employed at John Deere facilities in Waterloo, Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, and Ottumwa. Earlier this week, about 90 percent of UAW members voted to reject the company’s contract offer—a remarkable consensus, given that more than 90 percent of workers participated in the vote. Although Deere’s profits have increased by 61 percent in recent years, and CEO John May’s salary increased by about 160 percent from 2019 to 2020, the company offered workers only a 5 percent to 6 percent raise, with additional 3 percent raises in 2023 and 2025. Proposed changes to pensions also weren’t acceptable to most workers.

The last strike at John Deere plants began in 1986 and lasted for about five months. According to the Des Moines Register, the largest strikes anywhere in Iowa during the past three decades were a 1995 stoppage at Amana Refrigeration in Cedar Rapids, which involved about 2,000 workers, and a 2004 strike at Newton-based Maytag, involving about 1,600 workers.

The Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement supporting the Deere workers a few minutes after midnight, and many well-known Democrats added their voices throughout the day. I’ve enclosed many of those comments below.

Meanwhile, Governor Kim Reynolds, Senator Joni Ernst, and U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) said nothing about the event directly affecting thousands of their constituents. Staff for Reynolds, Hinson, and Miller-Meeks did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries.

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Iowa Republicans better never bash another "career politician"

Chuck Grassley hasn’t been acting like a senator who plans to retire. So it was no surprise when he confirmed at 4:00 am that he’s running for an eighth U.S. Senate term. In a tweet from his campaign account, Grassley said he and his wife Barbara made the decision because he has “a lot more to do, for Iowa.”

Grassley never lost an election hasn’t lost an election since 1956, and barring some cataclysmic event, he’s not going to lose next year. Everything stacks in his favor: name ID, fundraising capacity, a comfortable lead over his best-known Democratic challenger, Iowans’ tendency to re-elect incumbents, generally favorable trends for Iowa GOP candidates, and the reality that midterms are usually tough for the president’s party. (Though State Senator Jim Carlin is staying in the race, I don’t see any path for Grassley’s Republican primary opponent.)

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America’s best pollster has bad news for Democrats. Is she right?

Dan Guild: No other recent poll shows Joe Biden’s approval as low among independents as Selzer’s new Iowa poll.

The latest Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom is full of bad news for Democrats. President Joe Biden’s job approval in Iowa is a measly 31 percent, with 62 percent of respondents disapproving. Governor Kim Reynolds’ job approval is 53 percent, with 43 percent disapproving. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley leads his most likely Democratic opponent, Abby Finkenauer, by 55 percent to 37 percent.

If Selzer is right, the bad news extends far beyond Iowa. This polling suggests Democratic fortunes in 2022 look abysmal.

I have the greatest respect for Ann Selzer, and the last time I suggested she was wrong, I was wrong. 

So why do I think she is wrong now?

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Mike Franken leans toward repeat U.S. Senate bid

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.

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IA-01: Mathis set to clear Democratic field

Less than a week after launching her Congressional campaign, State Senator Liz Mathis has eliminated any chance of serious competition for the Democratic nomination in the first district.

Mathis announced support last week from more than 100 well-known Iowa Democrats, including all recent U.S. House representatives, every current statewide official, and 48 current state legislators. It’s not just the number of endorsements that will discourage others who may have considered running for Congress in northeast Iowa. Prominent voices representing all wings of the Democratic Party are behind Mathis.

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