January 18, 2022

Senate candidate speaks in Creston

Democrat candidate for an Iowa Senate seat Michael Franken met Monday with Union County Democrats. Franken hopes to replace Republican incumbent Charles Grassley who has had held the position since 1981.

Franken said Grassley’s time is done.

“Grassley is not the father figure bipartisan,” he said. “He has a Jesse Helms-like voting record,” comparing Grassley to the late, 40-year North Carolina Republican Senator.

“We need to do better,” Franken said. “Grassley says little and does less. He has shown zip, squat leadership as a senior senator.”

From northwest Iowa, Franken had a 39-year military career that included posts as a commander and a legislative affairs adviser to the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. His political work stopped early in the Trump administration.

“I chose not to work for Trump and I couldn’t stand it after Jan. 6,” he said about the attack on the U.S. Capitol a year ago.

“Nothing is getting done in Washington that’s a benefit to us, except for Axne’s work,” he said referring to Iowa’s Third Congressional District person Cindy Axne. “Jobs are stagnant and a slow decrement in rural America.”

He said rural Iowa needs help and the state has much potential in other areas. With a strong wind turbine industry and electric generation, Franken said Iowa should be attracting industry that uses large volumes of electricity.

“Iowa has the ability to have the best and least expensive energy.”

He also wants to see a high-speed rail line from Council Bluffs to Davenport and encourage BNSF to have something similar along its railroads including the one through Creston.

In the Democratic primary, Franken faces former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids, physician Glenn Hurst of Minden and veterans advocate Bob Krause of Burlington.

Franken was asked about the differences between him and Finkenauer. He declined to answer the question but emphasized his interest and history which included supporting rural parts of the state and his experience with government and strategy.

“I know how to get things done,” he said. “Leadership is a big deal.”

Franken noted the 36% of unaffiliated voters in Iowa.

“They get to choose that they are done with Grassley,” he said. “It’s time for a rejuvenation.”

In the Republican primary, Grassley faces a challenge from Sioux City state Sen. Jim Carlin.

The 2022 primary election will be June 7 and the general election Nov. 8.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.