Dave Muhlbauer, a farmer and former member of the Crawford County Board of Supervisors, announced he is running for the U.S. Senate with a video posted on social media. Muhlbauer is the first Democrat to enter the race for the seat currently held by Sen. Chuck Grassley.
“I’m not going to kid myself, it’s going to be a battle,” Muhlbauer says near the end of the video.
In the video, Muhlbauer introduces himself as a fifth-generation western Iowa farmer.
“It’s who me and my family are, and that drives me to want to make the Iowa the best it can be for everybody,” he says.
Muhlbauer is also the third generation of his family to enter politics. His grandfather, Louis, and his father, Dan, were both elected to the Iowa House of Representatives. His grandfather served five terms, starting in 1983, and his father served two terms, staring in 2011. Muhlbauer served one term on the Crawford County Board of Supervisors, before a narrow loss to a Republican opponent in last November’s election.
“I grew up a Democrat. My dad was a Democrat, my grandpa Louie was a Democrat, we are the old-school farming, labor Democrats. We’re for that middle class,” he says in the video, before acknowledging that many voters in western Iowa feel that the Democratic Party has “left them high and dry.”
According Muhlbauer, voters “forget who the rural Democrats truly are. We’re looking out for the little guy, we know that there needs to be a safety net to help people get back on their feet.”
Speaking to the Carroll Times Herald, Muhlbauer cited increasing support for agricultural practices that are intended to help address climate change, such as voluntary carbon-reduction markets, and enforcing antitrust laws to reduce the power of the large meat-processing companies to increase opportunities for farmers not already affiliated with the big companies.
“My issue is I think we really have got to start having in-depth conversations about farming,” he told the Times Herald’s Douglas Burns.
Muhlbauer also cited health care as a major issue, and said he is willing to consider a proposal to lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 55.
“Knowing that our health care now, we have to have fundraisers to help families get through a healthcare crisis is not health care,” he said.
Muhlbauer sticks to general themes in his video announcement, avoiding specific issues, but he told Burns he is in favor of much of President Biden’s infrastructure plan and supports a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices.
In the video, Muhlbauer does talk about how he sees corporations using political influence to shape the economy to their advantage.
“Wages aren’t making what they should be, the cost of living is going up,” he says. An image of a Tyson factory is shown in the video. “To see these corporations only to stack things in their favor through policy, procedure and lobbying, to see CEOs make a thousand times more than a general laborer — it’s highway robbery.”
One thing that is notably absent from the video is any reference to seven-term incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley. The senior U.S. senator from Iowa has not yet said if he intends to run for another term, but has filed the necessary FEC paperwork to do so. Filing the paperwork doesn’t mean Grassley is running, but it does allow him to more opportunity to raise money that can transferred to other candidates should he choose not to run.
At 87, Grassley is 50 years older than the 37-year-old Muhlbauer. Grassley had also been in elective office at either the state or federal level for a quarter century when Muhlbauer was born.
Muhlbauer told the Times Herald he intends to stay in the race regardless of whoever else enters, Republican or Democrat. So far, only one other person, Jim Carlin, a Republican state senator from Woodbury County, is a declared candidate in the 2022 U.S. Senate race. Carlin, an attorney, is a hardcore Trump supporter who has endorsed the phony claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
Muhlbauer lives in Manilla with his wife, Linda, who works as a librarian in the nearby town of Manning, and their three children. With other members of his family, he operates his family farm, where he grows corn, beans and alfalfa, and raises hogs and cattle.
“I’ve always in the back of my mind just had that eye that I wanted to run for the Senate someday,” he told Burns, explaining that he grew up in a household where politics was a regular topic of discussion. In the video, Muhlbauer says his father’s death last year helped push him to make the decision to run now.
“He had a lot of plans that he wanted to do, and he didn’t get to do them all,” he says.
Muhlbauer will be begin his campaign with visits to nine cities across Iowa, but dates for those campaign stops have not yet been announced. Both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids are on Muhlbauer’s list of initial campaign stops.