Abby Finkenauer announced on Thursday she is running for Senate in 2022. Finkenauer, who now lives in Cedar Rapids, represented her hometown of Dubuque in the Iowa House for two terms before being elected to Congress from Iowa’s 1st District in Congress in 2018.
Finkenauer had a quick rise in Iowa politics, becoming the second-youngest person elected to Congress in 2018 (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is younger), and there had been a lot speculation regarding the now 32-year-old Democrat’s political future after she lost her reelection bid in 2020.
At a birthday party/campaign fundraiser for Iowa City Rep. Christina Bohannan earlier this month, Finkenauer stopped short of making an announcement, but clearly indicated she had plans.
“It has lit a fire in me to know that I am not done,” she told the crowd of Iowa Democrats. “I have work to do, Iowa has work to do.”
In her announcement video posted on social media Thursday morning, Finkenauer spoke about values rather than policies. Her speech was similar to the sort Republicans traditionally use to complain about elites ignoring the needs of average citizens.
“My parents couldn’t give a trust fund or debt-free college, but they taught me about seeing work to be done and doing it,” Finkenauer tells a crowd of supporters in the video. “About treating people with respect, and about never thinking you are better than anyone else, no matter what you do or where you go.”
“I took those values with me to Washington, but the politicians who’ve been there for decades don’t really want people like us there. They think they own democracy.”
I'm Abby Finkenauer, and I'm running for U.S. Senate because Iowa—and our Democracy—are worth fighting for.
After 46 years in DC, @ChuckGrassley has lost touch with both.
I'm from a proud union family. We don't back down. I'm in this to win.
— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) July 22, 2021
Finkenauer then turns to the mob of Trump supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and over images of the violence on that day, she criticized politicians who were “silent” regarding the attack, which Finkenauer said she considers an attack on democracy itself.
“You see, it’s politicians like Sen. Grassley and Mitch McConnell who should know better, but are so obsessed with power that they oppose anything that moves us forward,” Finkenauer said.
By calling out Grassley in her video, Finkenauer makes a distinction between herself and Dave Muhlbauer, the farmer and former Crawford County supervisor who announced his run for Senate in May. In his campaign video, Muhlbauer didn’t mention Chuck Grassley, the seven-term incumbent who currently hold the U.S. Senate seat that will be on the ballot in November 2022.
The 87-year-old Grassley has said he will not announce until later this year whether he will run for reelection next year, but did file a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Committee in March. That filing allowed Grassley to run a full-scale fundraising operation.
The Grassley Works Political Action Committee boasted about the senior senator’s fundraising abilities in a statement on Thursday morning that attacked Finkenauer as “another out of touch, out of office Democrat.”
“She enters the race trailing Grassley in cash on hand — $2,549,206 to just $29,814,” the statement said.
That statement actually plays into the campaign theme Finkenauer is trying to establish, that she is working for the interests of average Iowans who aren’t been served by powerful political elites like Grassley, who has been in elected office at the state or federal level continually since 1959. Grassley, who has become a millionaire during his years in office, was already in his second term as a U.S. Senator when Finkenauer was born in 1988.
“It’s about the working families, like the one that I grew up in,” Finkenauer said in the video to describe her Senate run. “It’s about our young people who have left and the Iowans left behind by those at the top.”
In June, the Iowa Poll found 64 percent of respondents, including 37 percent of self-identified Republicans, think it is time someone other than Grassley represented Iowa in the Senate. The poll, however, did not indicate whether dissatisfied Republicans or independents who have been loyal to Grassley would vote for a Democratic candidate.