Iowa Democrats running to unseat Sen. Chuck Grassley plead their case

Three Democratic U.S. Senate candidates took aim at Republican Chuck Grassley at a forum on Saturday in Des Moines, challenging the public to determine which candidate would be best positioned to take him on in November.

“It’s time for us to present a candidate against Chuck Grassley who can win,” said candidate Glenn Hurst, a Minden city council member and physician.

At 88, Grassley is seeking an eighth term in the US Senate. His most recent election against former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge was his closest since he first took office in 1980 – and he won by 24 percentage points.

Hurst cast himself as the “prairie progressive” who could reverse the losing streak, arguing that Democrats should look at their values ​​and point out their differences with Republicans.

“I’m running on Democratic principles and Democratic priorities: health care for all, access to immigration to this country, bringing about rule reform, and a woman’s right to control. his own body,” he said. “These are imperatives. These are things that pit us against Chuck Grassley, and when we put forward a kind of candidate like that, that’s where Iowa is going to thrive.

Hurst is the most progressive candidate of the three, and he said Saturday he “unequivocally” supports policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer, former U.S. Representative, participates in a forum hosted by the Iowa Unity Coalition at Machinist Hall Saturday, April 9, 2022 in Des Moines.

Abby Finkenauer, a former US congresswoman and state legislator, took a more moderate approach to these policies, saying she supports an expanded health insurance system for those who want it in addition to health insurance. employer-based private sector, and she said she voted against the Green New Deal while in Congress.

She relied on her record in Congress and said it demonstrated the kind of policies and determination that will help Democrats defeat Grassley.

“You can look at my file all day. I’m proud of that,” she said. “I have already voted for lower prescription drug prices. I voted for paid family leave. I voted for rural infrastructure. I voted for the DREAM Act. I voted to put us back in the Paris climate agreement. You name it, I’m proud of what I’ve done, because this is my home.

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Mike Franken, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, highlighted his military record throughout the forum and said his background “neutralizes” many Republican talking points about Democrats. He said he thought Grassley should debate him in a general election because of his record of service.

“I’m a tough target for the GOP,” he said. “I’m a problem. I’m stealing their whole narrative. It doesn’t exist. It’s laughable. …I’ll work better than Chuck Grassley. I won’t give him a dignified retirement. I’ll give him a forced retirement.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Admiral Michael Franken participates in a forum hosted by the Iowa Unity Coalition at Machinist Hall Saturday, April 9, 2022 in Des Moines.

Iowa Unity Coalition, a political action committee that supports progressive candidates, hosted the forum. Thirty people were present.

This comes as the primary election season begins to heat up. All three candidates initially qualified to appear in the primary ballot, although Republicans contest Finkenauer’s petition. They say some of her signatures are invalid and should disqualify her from competition.

An Iowa judge is evaluating this issue and could issue an opinion in the coming days, although the losing side is expected to appeal the issue to the Iowa Supreme Court.

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“I was impressed with all three, really,” said Kevin Shilling, a 68-year-old Greenfield resident who attended the event.

Shilling said he voted for Grassley until the early 2000s when he became disillusioned, particularly over what Shilling called a lack of support for veterans. Now he wants someone who can stand up to the masses against false allegations of stolen elections.

“I mean, we’re lucky to have candidates who care about working for the people rather than the party,” he said. “And that is a huge game-changer for me.”

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the Register’s chief political reporter. Contact her at [email protected] or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

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