On Thursday, Glenn Hurst, a doctor and the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Rural Caucus, became the third Democrat to enter the 2022 race for the U.S. Senate seat Chuck Grassley has held for four decades.
“Iowa’s senior senator is stuck in a vision of our past when what we need is a vision for our future,” Hurst said in a Facebook post on Thursday. “I’m proud to announce my run for the U.S. Senate. I’ll work to improve our #healthcare system and for a living wage.”
Hurst lives in Minden, a town of about 600 residents near Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County, where he has his medical practice and serves on the city council. Hurst is also the medical director for three nursing homes in northwest Iowa.
“I’ve had a front-row seat to the tricks insurance companies use to avoid paying for care, drowning providers in paperwork when we should be with our patients,” Hurst said in a written statement announcing his run. I’m running for the U.S. Senate because Iowans deserve better. We deserve Medicare for All.”
Hurst has included “Medicare For All” as the third part of his campaign slogan, the other two parts of which are “Rural Doctor” and “Bold Progressive.”
Like former Crawford County Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer, the first Democrat to enter the 2022 Senate race, Hurst is focusing on rural Iowa at the launch of his campaign. He told the Des Moines Register “his vision for rural Iowa also includes keeping people in rural communities by providing local jobs, creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors so they can stay in the country, improving broadband internet access so people can work remotely in rural communities and addressing land use and water quality so Iowans can take advantage of recreational activities like hunting and fishing.”
— Glenn Hurst (@DrGlennHurst) July 29, 2021
Iowa Democrats, like Democrats in other states, have seen repeated failures in their appeals to rural voters in recent years. In the 2018 race for governor, although Democrat Fred Hubbell did well in urban areas, Gov. Kim Reynolds carried 88 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The 2020 U.S. Senate race was even worse for Democrats, with Sen. Joni Ernst winning in 91 counties.
The 2020 election, during which Hurst was serving as chair of the Rural Caucus for the IDP, also saw the loss two congressional seats held by Democrats, as well as the loss of seats in the Iowa House and Senate in districts that represent rural areas.
Hurst also worked on Rep. Cindy Axne’s successful bid for reelection in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District in 2020, which was the biggest victory for Iowa Democrats in last year’s general election. But even there, the problem of appealing to rural voters was evident. The only county Axne carried in the district was Polk, which, as home to Des Moines and the most populous county in the state, was enough to ensure her win.
Along with Muhlbauer, Hurst will face Abby Finkenauer, who lost her reelection bid in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District in 2020, in the Democratic primary. There is still plenty of time for other Democratic candidates to get into the race; the primary election for U.S. Senate will be held on June 7, 2022.
Sen. Chuck Grassley has said he will announce this fall if he is seeking an eighth term in the Senate. If Grassley decides to run and is reelected, he will be 95 at the end of his next term.