Michael Franken (D-Sioux City) announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate on Monday, Aug. 26. There are now five candidates to challenge Joni Ernst.
Franken has been telephoning potential donors and appearing at events around the state since the announcement.
Why should Iowa Democrats be interested in this retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral? The answer to that question lies in another: who is best able to defeat incumbent Joni Ernst in the 2020 general election?
The first step to answering these questions is identifying the field. Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield and Eddie Mauro entered the race first. In addition to these four, Cal Woods of Des Moines also announced. There may be more.
While it may be en vogue to declare oneself a “progressive,” any of the five Democratic candidates would be more progressive than the incumbent. A debate over who is the “most progressive” Senate candidate has already begun. It is a distraction from qualities most needed: an ability to do the work, raise sufficient funds, and connect with both primary and general election voters who aren’t politically active compared to those who normally vote in a Democratic primary election.
As a former infantry officer, it seems unusual to me for a general officer to be anything but conservative in their approach to politics. Democratic general officers I have known have had progressive ideas but have to run the same gauntlet to earn that second and third star. The Vice Admiral rank has three stars. We wish Franken good luck as he enters the race.
Here’s Franken’s unedited announcement press release followed by his introductory video.
Retired Three-Star Admiral Mike Franken to Run for US Senate
Sioux County Native Served Almost Four Decades in the Navy
Sioux City, IA — Today, retired three-star Admiral Mike Franken announced that he is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Joni Ernst.
In an introductory video, Franken underscored his deep Iowa roots and leadership lessons from the Navy.
“I made a lot of tough calls during my time in the Navy, and I’m not afraid to stand up for the proud progressive principles that Iowa Democrats share,” said Franken. “But in Washington, Republicans like Joni Ernst and Mitch McConnell never stand up to Donald Trump, and too many DC Democrats aren’t championing bold solutions for the climate crisis, the cost of health care, and Wall Street greed.”
Mike Franken was born and raised in rural Northwest Iowa. He spent his formative years working on farm equipment and trucks in Lebanon Farm Shop alongside his father. Mike was a hired farm hand, welder, construction worker, truck driver, and worked at Sioux-Preme Packing Company to pay for college.
Military service is a tradition in his family going back to his German immigrant grandfather who fought in World War I and his father who fought in World War II.
A military career introduced the world to Mike, but he always considered Iowa to be home. He lived on four continents as a naval officer, commissioned the destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, commanded a squadron of ships and an international task force at sea, and served as the ground task force commander for the 4,000 US personnel on the continent of Africa. He was the first director of the POW/MIA defense agency tasked to find and identify fallen servicemembers worldwide. Franken spent years in senior policymaking, strategy, and planning roles for the Defense Department. As chief of legislative affairs for the Navy, he oversaw the authorization of a $150 billion budget. He retired from military service as a three-star admiral in October of 2017.
Even while serving on the other side of the world, Iowa has always been on Mike’s mind and in his heart. Shortly after his retirement from the military, Mike moved back home and now lives in Sioux City, Iowa.
Mike and Jordan, his wife of 30 years, have two children.
For campaign information go to FrankenforIowa.org.