Senate candidate Mike Franken in Iowa City, shares priorities for Senate seat

Mike Franken, candidate for the 2022 Senate race, spoke with the DI about his priorities should he take the seat, and why he believes he should be elected.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Former United States Admiral Mike Franken talks to the media on Jan. 26 2022 in the Daily Iowan Newsroom located in the Adler Journalism Building. Franken is running for state and talked about his campaign goals.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

A challenger in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, Mike Franken, visited Iowa City on Wednesday and sat down with The Daily Iowan, where he said that his previous experience in D.C. and his rural upbringing would make him the right Democrat to take on Republican incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley.

“I know people from all walks of life and I’ve developed what I think is a true test for Democrats and that is caring as much for people that you’ve never met as those who you know,” Franken said.

Born and raised in rural Sioux Center, Iowa, Franken said that he can relate to Iowans, but also has a broad outlook as he has served in D.C. and overseas.

Franken spent 36 years in the United States Navy and is now seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Franken also sought the Democratic nomination in the 2020 Senate primary, but he placed second to Theresa Greenfield, with 24.9 percent of the vote.

This year, once again, he is not the only Democratic player in the race.

Former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer announced a bid to run for Senate in July. Minden City Councilor Glenn Hurst, and former Iowa Rep. Bob Krause have also entered the race as Democrats. Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, is the only Republican challenging Grassley so far.

When challenging an incumbent like Grassley, Franken said he would show Iowans that he actually has their best interest in mind,

“Well, first of all, [Grassley] has a voting record. I have a ‘doing’ record,” Franken said.

During his campaign efforts, Franken said he has been meeting various groups of Iowans like mayors, workers, and veterans to get a feel for what the population is concerned about.

One of the first priorities Franken said he wanted to focus on, if he made it to Congress, would be rebuilding the Democratic party in Iowa. Other priorities include health care, infrastructure, and human rights justice.

“We need to kind of heal the country. We have a big division amongst us all and there’s large segments of the population that has spread between the haves and the have-nots,” Franken said.

Education is another priority Franken hopes to focus on.

Franken said that Iowa’s universities do not have enough state support behind them, and condemned the state’s tax break when he said funds could be used to build educational structure.

RELATED: Gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear says keeping college grads in Iowa is a campaign priority

Franken said he’s against making four-year public universities tuition-free but instead would advocate for the cost to be lowered or supplemented with volunteer service jobs.

“There’s a plethora of jobs that young people could do to expand their understanding of things and perhaps really decide what they want to do in life. Maybe you want to play it out a little bit and it helps for school. But really, we should leave school without a mountain of debt,” Franken said.

If given a chance to lobby for infrastructure funding for Iowa, Franken said that he will highlight the areas that need funds such as the Mississippi River, run-down buildings in rural towns, and use broadband funding to boost Iowa’s internet speeds, attracting new technology businesses to the state.

Following the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Franken said changes need to be made to the federal government in order to progress as a society.

“After the sixth of January there’s a darkness that is beneath the current in America,” Franken said. “It’s not healthy. It’s not helpful. And it’s not dead. It’s still swirling. And we should be very fearful of that. We should be looking at our elected leaders to be people of principle, fair-minded, strong, for the tough job.”