Retired Admiral Mike Franken becomes the fifth Democrat to launch a campaign for U.S. Senate

Video still of Michael Franken, Aug. 26, 2019.

Retired Admiral Mike Franken made it official on Thursday: he’s running for the 2022 Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Franken is the fifth Democratic to enter the race to take on seven-term incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Franken made his announcement in an interview with the Des Moines Register that was published at 6 a.m. on Thursday. Two hours later, Franken tweeted that he was running.

Franken also posted a link to a campaign donation site on Facebook page. His campaign website currently only has links for campaign donations and volunteer sign-ups.

In August, Franken told the Carroll Times Herald he planned to run, but was delaying his announcement due to health reasons. When he spoke to the Times Herald, Franken was in Washington D.C. for medical treatment.

The 63-year-old Franken declined to say what the condition for which he had sought treatment was, but told the papers he would disclose it after he returned to Iowa and began campaigning. Franken said he would begin campaigning following an upcoming surgical procedure and two weeks of post-surgical rest.

The Register story does not mention Franken’s health.

Franken, who grew up in Sioux County, moved back to Iowa following his retirement from the Navy, after an almost 40-year career. He currently lives in Sioux City.

During his naval career, Franken worked with Congress as the Navy’s chief of legislative affairs. He was also assigned by the Navy to work as a staff member for Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. After he retired, Franken worked as a consultant in Washington. He moved back to Iowa to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020.

Franken finished a distant second in the four-way race for the Democratic Senate nomination last year. The winner, Theresa Greenfield, went on to lose to Sen. Joni Ernst in the general election.

“I think it’s very clear looking across the national scope of things that the nation has a lot of challenges, and I believe those challenges are less economic at this stage, more rehabilitative, and we need strong leadership,” Franken told the Times Herald in August, when discussing his plans to run. “I think there is an element that the Senate needs to regain its footing and we need to mend between the aisle.”

In a written statement from his campaign on Thursday morning, Franken provided a general outline of the topics he’ll campaign on.

“I’ll be a Senator for all of Iowa, the rural and urban parts and small towns, because there’s more that unites us than divides us. We all want health care we can afford, good jobs that allow young people to stay close to home, and leadership from Washington instead of constant partisan bickering.”

Franken cited the need for affordable health care in his interview with the Register, noting, “We can’t have a food supply that promotes consumption over health. We can’t have a reducing life expectancy in America.”

Franken’s 2020 Senate bid was his first run for public office. This year, he joins former one-term member of Congress Abby Finkenauer; Dave Muhlbauer, a former one-term Crawford County supervisor; Dr. Glenn Hurst, a city councilmember in Miden and Bob Krause, who represented Burlington in the Iowa House in the 1970s.

The primary election for the Senate race will be in June 2022.

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