EMILY's List to play in Iowa; won't commit to positive Senate race

One of the leading Democratic-aligned political action committees endorsed three Iowa candidates this week. EMILY’s List, which backs pro-choice Democratic women seeking federal, state, or local offices, endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer on December 15 and U.S. House candidates Christina Bohannan and Liz Mathis in the new first and second Congressional districts on December 16.

The PAC endorsed U.S. Representative Cindy Axne for re-election in the third district in March.

This week’s announcements were no surprise, since EMILY’s List supported Axne and Finkenauer in their 2018 and 2020 U.S. House campaigns, and said in April that Senator Chuck Grassley was one of three Republicans the group planned to target in 2022 Senate races.

Backing from EMILY’s List helps candidates raise money through the organization’s large network of donors. Perhaps more important, it indicates the group is prepared to pay for advertising on behalf of endorsed candidates or against their opponents.

The big question is whether EMILY’s List will keep its messages positive before the June 2022 Senate primary, or also target Democratic rivals. I couldn’t get an answer from the group yesterday.

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"Admiral on the bridge!"

Ira Lacher: Mike Franken has deliberately avoided labeling himself a “centrist” or “moderate.” But Saturday, there was no doubt where he stood.

On December 11, I attended a meet-and-greet, intending to be introduced to retired Vice Admiral Michael Franken, one of the Democrats running against Senator Chuck Grassley. Instead, I was introduced to Jean-Luc Picard.

It’s not hard to imagine Franken — a 64-year-old rural Sioux County native, who emerged from a working-class family of nine kids in a landlocked state to attain the rank of three-star admiral without attending the Naval Academy — on the bridge of the starship USS Enterprise.

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IA-Sen: A big quarter for Abby Finkenauer

The latest Federal Election Commission filings from Iowa’s U.S. Senate candidates included one big surprise. Former U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer raised more money than seven-term Senator Chuck Grassley during the third quarter of the year.

Follow me after the jump for highlights on fundraising and spending by all the Senate candidates.

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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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