Franken for Senate

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

By resumé alone, retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken of Sioux City has the best chance of any Democrat to unseat Sen. Joni Ernst in the November general election. As the commander of the Navy in the African theatre, Franken helped lead the military response to the ebola epidemic in Africa. He served as a liaison between the Pentagon and Congress, where he worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy. He has an advanced degree in physics at a time when the US West and Australia are on fire. He comes from rural Iowa and knows our potential.

Mike Franken can beat Ernst and lead us into a secure future.

Franken is the best candidate from an impressive list on the primary ballot June 2. Theresa Greenfield, a real estate executive from Des Moines, has the backing of the party establishment in Washington. Kimberly Graham is the closest candidate politically to Sen. Tom Harkin, who once held this seat. Eddie Mauro is a successful businessman who has dumped a ton of cash into the race.

Franken, 62, was reared around his father’s machine shop in tiny Lebanon, Sioux County. He worked summers in the packing plant as he earned an engineering degree from the University of Nebraska. Inspired by his big brother’s service in Vietnam, Franken enlisted in the Navy as a technologist and rose through the ranks to the top of the military. He earned an advanced degree in wave theory, and studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He preaches the American military ethos of valor, integrity and loyalty to the Constitution. That’s exactly what this nation needs right now, and it is what Ernst has abandoned with the most criminal, corrupt and incompetent administration in US history.

Greenfield ran for the Democratic nomination in the Third Congressional District, which was won by Rep. Cindy Axne of Des Moines. Greenfield is nothing if not hard-working and determined — she was widowed at a young age with little children in Winnebago County and pulled herself up to prominence in Des Moines. She set about running for the Senate and secured the inside lane. To hold that lane she employs caution and reserve, when we need a stronger progressive message to turn around a half-century of neglect and disinvestment in the working class.

Graham is a family court attorney from Indianola who assails corporate campaign financing, a system rigged against rural America, champions rights for the poor and disenfranchised, and promotes health care for all. In short, our kind of progressive. It’s hard to determine how she sells against Ernst.

Franken can win. Ernst won in large part on her military background. Franken has that in spades.

He is self-confident as you would expect an admiral to be. You sense he was the smartest kid in class who couldn’t wait to get out of that machine shop and hog guts to see the world. But he came back, to Sioux City at least, when he could have retired to Virginia Beach. He is running because he thinks Ernst is incapable of standing up to a President who is destroying the Republic from within. He sees his role as defending democracy and liberty. He has delivered the news of a sailor’s death to a mother. “Nobody will be gunsplaining me,” he declares.

Franken is for making Medicare available to anyone through the Affordable Care Act. He identifies climate change as the priority — Iowa can lead the world in carbon sequestration with resilient agriculture, and change the trajectory of rural life. Franken knows how to fight the increasing odds of pandemics potentially more severe than COVID-19. He has an especially deep grasp of energy dynamics that is urgently crucial right now.

Franken is the perfect contrast to Trump and Ernst. He is studied. He is outraged by deceit. He understands the world. He is a scientist. He is brilliant. He knows his way around Washington and the world. He believes in the oath he swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. Isn’t that what we need right now?

THE FOURTH DISTRICT REPUBLICANS will have an interesting congressional primary with four challengers to Rep. Steve King. Each is vying to be more conservative and for Trump than King is. King is the one who can turn out the base, which is the most important factor in November. He probably will win the primary. He is the worst congressman in the history of western Iowa, and our fondest hope is to see JD Scholten, the nice Democrat from Sioux City, beat him in the general election. Enough of the corporate claptrap disguised as some sort of libertarian philosophy that has our country careening into catastrophe. We need the change that Scholten is talking about.

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