It’s the home stretch for Iowa primary candidates, and those in the Democratic Senate primary are using their final days on the campaign trail to emphasize to voters why they stand the best chance of winning the seat. of the US Senate in November.
It’s not just political points, but life experiences that voters who vote in the June 7 primary election care about, Iowa Democratic Senate primary candidates have argued.
For former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, it’s being a young woman. For retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken, 64, it’s his military service. For Councilman Glenn Hurst, 52, it’s his time as a medical provider in rural Iowa. All three candidates say they are in the best position to understand and solve the nation’s current problems in Washington, DC because of the lives they have led.
Finkenauer, 33, said on the campaign trail that she was uniquely equipped in this race to talk about abortion access.
“That’s why we need someone standing in 2023 in the United States Senate who is a woman of childbearing age, who actually has a personal stake in this,” she told an Iowa Press debate in May. “It’s absurd to me that we don’t have more voices standing on this floor right now.”
Following the Leaked Roe v. Wade in May, Democrats nationwide renewed their push to federally codify abortion rights. In previous election cycles where abortion was in the national spotlight, more women made it through the primaries, said Democratic strategist Jeff Link.
Democratic candidate Patty Judge’s campaign rallied against U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s vote against Attorney General Merrick Garland as the Supreme Court nominee in 2016. Roxanne Conlin, who ran in 2010, put forward the “right to choose” in his campaign.
“I think if people only have a little bit of information about each candidate, I think there’s a huge upside to being a woman in a statewide Democratic primary,” said said Link.
All three candidates support abortion rights. Hurst, who runs a medical practice in Minden, said he was approaching the issue as a healthcare provider. He said helping guide women as patients through the process of considering and seeking an abortion service has shaped his approach to abortion access and support for healthcare policies such as Medicare for All.
“I see it as a question of what role the federal government should have in any medical decision-making, which is an override,” he said. “The only person who should make that choice is the person making it, with access to unfettered advice from a medical provider.”
Personal experience is not the only factor in play: during the election campaign, candidates also highlight their political authenticity.
The war between Russia and Ukraine shows the benefits of having someone in power with military experience, Franken’s political director, Rep. Ras Smith, said. Franken retired as a vice admiral in the Navy after serving 39 years and worked with U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy in Washington as a legislative liaison.
“We have a candidate who brings global experience,” Smith said. “We have a candidate who is ready from day one, has global experience being there and knows how we can be better allies and provide better humanitarian aid.”
In a KCRG debateFranken was the only candidate who said he would support sending US troops to help Ukraine. If Russian President Vladimir Putin used a nuclear weapon, he said, he would support US military involvement.
“It’s a red line,” he said. “We have to move on. We cannot let the use of weapons of mass destruction against a large population and a democracy ever be used and go unanswered.
While Franken has a military background and Hurst is a member of the Minden City Council, Finkenauer’s campaign pointed out that she is the only candidate to have held federal office in the race as a former congresswoman from the first district.
Finkenauer said his tenure and campaign experience as a Democrat in Iowa would give him an edge in the general election.
“Every time I’ve run as a Democrat for federal office, we’ve gotten more votes than the Democrats above us, who’ve had more money, and that’s because of the coalition. of voters that we gather here,” she said. during the May debate.
It’s a competitive race. According to recent campaign finance reports, Franken had raised more than $1 million by mid-May, while Finkenauer had raised over $600,000.
But winning the primary is only the first step. Tuesday’s winner will face the Republican general election nominee: U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley or Iowa Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City.
Wanting to replace Grassley isn’t enough for a successful Democratic campaign in Iowa, strategist Link said. Whichever candidate wins the primary must be prepared to present voters with a strong argument to replace the senator who has held his seat for more than 40 years.
“For anyone to be successful, it never really works in Iowa to attack someone for being old, it never really works to attack their stature,” he said. “You really have to have a reason to replace someone who’s been there for so long.”