Dave Muhlbauer ends his run for U.S. Senate, following a death in his family

Dave Muhlbauer, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, at George’s in Iowa City, May 26, 2021. — Jason Smith/Little Village

Dave Muhlbauer, who was the first Iowa Democrat to launch a run for the U.S. Senate in the 2022 election, ended his campaign on Tuesday. In a statement published on social media, Muhlbauer said his decision came after “a period of reflection with family and close friends” following the death of his 4-year-old nephew in a farm accident on Aug. 12.

“As I’m sure you can all imagine, this has had a devastating effect on our family,” Muhlbauer wrote. “It’s something you can never prepare yourself for and will leave a hole that will never be filled.”

Mulhbauer said he “wanted to thank everyone who reached out to our family during this time of tragedy and mourning. Your support has meant more than you will ever know.”

He also said, “I deeply appreciate the incredible people I was able to meet over the months I traveled across Iowa,” and suggested “you hold those you love extra tight as we move into the holiday season and beyond.”

When Muhlbauer, a farmer and former Crawford County supervisor, launched his run against the seven-term incumbent, he stressed the need to bring change to Washington D.C. after Grassley’s 40 years in the Senate.

“I just feel it’s time to let the next generation of Iowans take the reins,” Muhlbauer said during a campaign stop in Iowa City in May, shortly after starting his campaign. “And let us shape what Iowa is going to be, going into the next 20 to 30 to 40 years.”

If Grassley is reelected in 2022, he will become the longest-serving current member of the Senate, because Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont announced this month he will not run for reelection. Leahy has been in the Senate six years longer than Grassley, even though he is seven years younger than the 88-year-old Grassley.

Muhlbauer served on the Crawford County Board of Supervisors from 2016 to 2020. He is 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, starting in 2011.

Muhlbauer’s withdrawal from the Senate race, leaves four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination: Abby Finkenauer, who served one-term in Congress before being defeated by Ashley Hinson in the 2020 election; Dr. Glenn Hurst, a city council member in the small western Iowa town of Minden, who served as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Rural Caucus for the 2020 election; Bob Krause, who served in the Iowa House of Representatives in the 1970s, and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2010 and 2016; and retired U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Franken, who unsuccessfully ran for his party’s nomination for Senate last year.