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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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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After 9/11, we weren't all in this together

I spent much of Saturday reading or watching eyewitness accounts or reflections on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

I was living in the UK, so the first half of my day passed routinely as I worked on my dissertation at home. Nothing unusual was on the BBC newscast I watched over my lunch break. The first plane struck the World Trade Center a little before 2:00 pm. I got a call soon after urging me to turn on the television and watched the horror unfold for the rest of the day and evening.

The attacks were a top news story in the UK for a long time. Most people don’t know 9/11 was the deadliest terrorist incident in British history. At least 67 UK citizens lost their lives, mostly in the World Trade Center or on the airplanes. No Irish Republican Army bombing had ever claimed nearly as many victims. For weeks afterward, I remember random strangers in London offering their condolences for what happened to my country as soon as they heard my American accent.

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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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Iowa Senate primary has new front-runner, more level playing field

Former U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer made it official on July 22: she’s running for the U.S. Senate. And even though signs point to long-serving Senator Chuck Grassley seeking another term in 2022, at least two other people are poised to compete against Finkenauer and Dave Muhlbauer for the Democratic nomination.

Finkenauer will carry several advantages into the primary campaign. But compared to Iowa’s last Democratic race for U.S. Senate, the contenders will be playing on a much more level field.

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Don't bet on Chuck Grassley retiring

Five U.S. Senate Republicans have confirmed they won’t seek re-election in 2022. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama reported no individual or political action committee contributions during the first six months of 2021. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania reported $365 in total contributions during the same period. Rob Portman of Ohio–$23,635.83. Richard Burr of North Carolina–$140,764. Roy Blunt of Missouri–$194,149.74.

In contrast, Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley–who has served in elective office continuously since 1959–raised $682,379.79 in contributions from January through June, Federal Election Commission filings show. His campaign brought in $354,679.79 from individuals and $327,700 from a long list of PACs. He also transferred $193,811.28 from other committees to his main campaign account, which reported $2,549,206.27 cash on hand as of June 30.

Grassley refunded more campaign contributions ($11,400 in the first quarter, $20,775 in the second) than rival Republican candidate Jim Carlin (a state senator from Sioux City) raised from individuals other than himself. Carlin’s latest FEC disclosure shows his Senate campaign spent more than it brought in from April through June and closed out the second quarter with $8,639.20 cash on hand.

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