Michael Franken, a retired Navy admiral, Monday morning rolled out a list of staff and advisers for his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Franken, originally of Sioux Center, in Northwest Iowa, is one of four Democrats challenging Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in 2020.
This is Franken’s first run for public office, and political insiders have wondered how professional of an operation he would be able to put together. The DSCC and other national Democratic and progressive organizations have already lined up behind Des Moines businesswoman Theresa Greenfield. But Franken has been able to add some recognizable names just a couple of weeks into his candidacy.
“I am excited to have put together a strong team experienced in all facets of Iowa and nationally,” said Franken, in a statement. “The road to a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate runs through Iowa, and this campaign has the best chance of flipping Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat in 2020.
Meet Franken’s Iowa staff:
Richard Bender, senior advisor: Bender worked for the Iowa Democratic Party from 1970 to 1975; for Sen. John Culver from 1975 to 1976; and for Sen. Tom Harkin, a former Iowa congressman and U.S. senator, from 1977 to 2013. He runs a polling firm that has worked with countless well-known national Democrats.
Jessica Vanden Berg, senior strategist: Vanden Berg began her political career in Iowa with Congressman Leonard Boswell and served as deputy director of the Iowa Democratic Party in 2002 when Sen. Harkin and Gov. Tom Vilsack were in office. She has worked on local races and presidential campaigns, both in Iowa and around the country, including running Christie Vilsack’s campaign for Congress in 2012 and Virginia Sen. Jim Webb’s 2006 campaign. She’s also been consulting with Bernie Sanders’ Iowa campaign this year.
Jordan Overstreet, campaign manager: A Midwest campaign veteran, Overstreet most recently managed the mayoral campaign of councilwoman Jolie Justus in Kansas City, Missouri, and Michigan Rep. Andy Levin’s first congressional campaign.
Kimberley Strope-Boggus, political director: Boggus served as the Iowa Political Director for the presidential campaign of former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper. She also has deep ties to the activist community in Des Moines.
By Elizabeth Meyer