Former US Navy Admiral Mike Franken sailed past two competitors on Tuesday to set up his biggest political battle to date: Challenging Chuck Grassley for his long-time US Senate seat.
Multiple news outlets called the primary race for Franken close to 9:00pm. With just over half the precincts in, Franken held a 20-point lead over Finkenauer. Grassley also soundly defeated his Republican primary challenge, state Sen. Jim Carlin.
November’s showdown with Grassley will be Franken’s first time facing a Republican challenger for an Iowa US Senate seat. Franken attempted to challenge US Sen. Joni Ernst in 2020 but fell short in the primary to Theresa Greenfield.
While Franken didn’t get a chance to directly take on Iowa’s junior senator, he views himself as the person who can defeat Iowa’s senior senator. Grassley has served Iowa in the Senate since 1981.
Franken thinks his military background will make it harder for Republicans to attack him. He commanded a destroyer squadron, served in the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office and the Pentagon, and had a stint running military operations for US Africa Command.
Franken also contrasts with Grassley on legislative action on guns and gun violence.
“I grew up with firearms, it has been part of my professional life,” he said during a primary debate. “There’s no one in Washington, DC, or in Iowa or in the NRA who is going to gun-splain me, and I doubt if anybody will be happy to have a debate with me on what we should do for responsible firearm ownership in America.”
Meanwhile, Grassley made national headlines after one of his town halls—part of his famous 99-county swing through Iowa—over his unwillingness to commit to any existing Congressional proposals on reducing access to guns.
“By the way, you’re talking to somebody that doesn’t know much about guns because I haven’t shot a gun in probably 20, 40, or 50 years,” Grassley said at the town hall. “I’ve got one little gun that hasn’t been shot during that period of time. So you aren’t talking to someone who loves guns, I don’t hate guns, but I do protect people’s constitutional rights.”
Heading into the fall election, Grassley has about $4.3 million in cash on hand while Franken has a little more than $250,000, giving the early financial edge to the incumbent. However, Franken thinks the combination of his rural upbringing, military experience, and desire to reduce partisan conflicts will appeal to voters who are looking for a change.
“I vow to introduce intellect, to set aside vitriol, and I will represent all Iowans to stitch together the wounds of a damaged nation,” Franken said during a recent event in Des Moines.
by Ty Rushing
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