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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It's time to codify Roe

Glenn Hurst is a family physician in southwest Iowa and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

It’s time to codify Roe v. Wade.

We all understand that the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision was a seminal victory for women across the country. Roe allowed American women to be treated a little more equally in our country’s social, political, and economic life.

As a doctor, I understand that the decision to have an abortion is not an easy one. I have never had a woman in my clinic decide to terminate a pregnancy lightly. Like all medical procedures, it is between a woman and her doctor.

As it stands, the GOP’s top priority is creating an anti-abortion mob of vigilantes to patrol the streets, looking for women to turn in for a reward. Make no mistake – this will result in a cottage industry of professionalized bounty hunters looking for vulnerable women to prey on.

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The story of the Safe at School Sit-In

Julie Russell-Steuart is a printmaker and activist who chairs the Iowa Democratic Party’s Disability Caucus. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Urgency

On August 11, a Wednesday morning, four moms of school-aged kids arrived at the Iowa State Capitol to put on an event called the Safe at School Sit-In. Two of them had met the previous day, but this was the first time everyone had met each other in person. The fifth member was anxiously keeping an eye on her Facebook Messenger and waiting for the live feed from the Iowans for Public Education Facebook page.

Twelve days earlier, Erin Dahl and Julie Russell-Steuart, both disability advocates, had discussed wanting to do something about the failure of virtually every state institution to protect vulnerable kids and Iowans in general from COVID-19. The next day, Erin saw a post by Brook Easton on Educators for a Safe Return to School Facebook group, saying how it was incredible no one had organized a protest yet, and tagged Julie.

The post turned up more moms wanting to take action. A group was quickly formed and the first of many Zoom meetings and probably hundreds of Facebook Messages started.

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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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