It was bound to happen at some point. It just happened to be this week.
Iowa’s 2022 U.S. Senate Democratic primary finally started. And after a months-long drought, the candidate revelations this week poured like a flash storm, with no fewer than three making their way into the news.
Let’s start with the reminder that the incumbent, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican, has not yet said whether he will retire from the Senate or seek a seventh, six-year term. How competitive this race will be from the start hinges on that decision: Grassley would be very tough to beat, while an open-seat race would start closer to toss-up status.
For the longest time, we have had only speculation and rumors about which Iowa Democrats might step forward to challenge Grassley. That finally ended this week, with one candidate officially entering the race, another reportedly on the way in, and a third ruling it out.
Dave Muhlbauer became the first Democrat to officially declare his candidacy. Muhlbauer is a farmer and former county supervisor from Manning. He is young, 37, and a new face to the statewide political scene. His father, Dan Muhlbauer, who passed away in October, was a former state legislator.
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Dave Muhlbauer may not be the only Democratic candidate for long. According to anonymously sourced reports from the conservative political site Iowa Field Report and Politico, former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer is planning a run.
Finkenauer served two terms in the Iowa House, then one in the U.S. House before losing her re-election bid in 2020. Her candidacy would come as little surprise to those who follow Iowa politics closely. Finkenauer has been mulling her options since her defeat in November, and a Senate run would make sense for her.
(Quick aside: There is a possibility that the U.S. Senate race could wind up a rematch of that 2020 1st District congressional campaign, if Finkenauer runs and wins the Democratic nomination, and if Grassley retires — and Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson runs and wins the GOP nomination. But I digress.)
One Iowa Democrat who has ruled out a run for U.S. Senate is state auditor Rob Sand, who made the revelation this week to the Carroll Times. Sand had been considering myriad options for 2022: run for re-election as auditor, or run for the U.S. Senate or governor. Sand has whittled the Senate off that list.
It seemed likely the Democrats were headed for a competitive primary in Iowa’s Senate race. The questions now are how competitive, and whether the national Democrats — aka "the establishment" — will get involved.
Recent history says the D.C. Democrats should keep themselves busy with something else for the next 12 months and stay out of Iowa until June 8 — the day after Iowa’s 2022 primary election. The Democrats’ movers and shakers have put their thumb on the scales in all three U.S. Senate primaries in Iowa since Tom Harkin retired in 2014. The result: An 0-3 general election record for their hand-picked candidates. and none came closer than a half-dozen percentage points of the winner.
There are other Democrats political observers have been watching: What will former congressional candidate J.D. Scholten and former Iowa Secretary of State candidate Deidre DeJear do? How about Mike Franken, who turned some heads while competing in Iowa’s 2020 Democratic Senate primary? Any would make a formidable Democratic primary candidate.
We will find out soon enough. Meantime, the primary kicked off this week, with just more than a year before the primary election.
Iowa’s next campaign news cycle is in drought status no more. The rain is here.
Our environment: Spring 2021
Seasonal coverage of the land we live on:
While fortunately no tornadoes befell the Mason City area this week, the conditions that can create severe weather were there.
Luther College’s Center for Sustainable Communities, in partnership with the Northeast Iowa chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, is hosting a we…
The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is hosting a hike and tour of the 40-acre Kothenbeutel Prairie preserve this weekend, where North Iowa residents can try to see one of the earliest blooming flowers in the state.
As winter set in around North Iowa, local amphibians and reptiles retreated to places like the muddy beds of ponds and underground burrows to …
At least one species is on the state's endangered list.
After receiving reports of discolored water in a Chelsea Creek tributary, the Iowa DNR has traced the issue back to Martin-Brower, a McDonald's distribution Center in Mason City.
The app-based rides could be in town as early as next week.
The annual Clear Lake Earth Day 5k/10k run took place Saturday morning at City Park, drawing a crowd spanning every age group.
Mason City's city-wide Earth Day cleanup will take place from April 19 to May 6.
As Earth Day arrives, a quick drive around the Mason City and Clear Lake areas will reveal just how much of a litter problem North Iowa faces.
Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.