Democrat Mike Franken launched his first ad in the general election on Tuesday, putting a spotlight on his military experience as he makes his pitch to Iowans in the election for U.S. Senate.
In the ad, Franken, sporting a Navy cap in front of an Iowa cornfield, says he spoke “truth to power” in his time in the Navy, and that he would continue to stand up to corporate interests as a U.S. senator.
A former admiral, Franken says in the ad he was “that one person to speak out against the Iraq invasion” under President George W. Bush, and updated a system under President Barack Obama to improve military intelligence.
“I’m Michael Franken, and I approve this message because corporate special interests are ripping off Iowa families,” he says in the ad. “We need a Senator who doesn’t take their money, and isn’t afraid to speak truth to power.”
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Franken recently completed a 99-county tour of Iowa, finishing the tour with a rally in opponent Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s hometown of New Hartford.
“Admiral Michael Franken is a patriot and a public servant who has always spoken truth to power while serving both Democrats and Republicans,” campaign spokesperson C.J. Petersen said in a press release. “But while Admiral Franken is no stranger to speaking truth to power, Senator Chuck Grassley has taken millions of dollars from powerful corporate special interests during his 47 years in Washington.”
The campaign will spend $160,000 on the ad to air in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids media markets.
In the July Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, Grassley held an 8 point lead over Franken, the lowest lead Grassley has posted over an opponent in the poll since his first election to the Senate.
In a statement, the Republican Party of Iowa pushed back on Franken’s claim he doesn’t take corporate Political Action Committee money, pointing to donations made to his campaign from leadership PACs that take in donations from corporate PACs.
“Arrogant Mike Franken trashes rural Iowa one day and misleads Iowans about being propped up by corporate PACs the next. The guy is doing and saying whatever he can to get himself elected,” Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann said. “Chuck Grassley is the nation’s hardest working Senator. He puts the needs of Iowans first, visits every county, every year, and tells Iowans the truth. Franken could learn a few things from Chuck Grassley.”
According to FEC data, Franken has received donations from leadership PACs aligned with Senate and congressional Democrats, which receive some money from corporate PACs.
Republicans have criticized this as hypocrisy, but End Citizens United, a group seeking to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed increased corporate spending on elections, maintains leadership and corporate PAC donations are not equivalent.
Super PAC reserves $2.35 million in ads for eastern Iowa Republicans amid nationwide buy
The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, announced it has reserved another $37 million in TV time for the last two months before the midterms.
The new wave of ad reservation spans at least 20 congressional districts, including two in Iowa where the CLF has reserved $2.35 million in TV reservations for ads to defend and help re-elect House GOP incumbents in Eastern Iowa.
The $37 million in new ad reservations is in addition to the $125 million the group announced in April. Districts added under the $37 million in new CLF reservations include Iowa’s new 1st and 2nd congressional districts.
U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, is being challenged by Democrat Christina Bohannan, an attorney and state legislator from Iowa City, for the 1st District U.S. House seat. Miller-Meeks won the 2020 election for Iowa’s open 2nd district seat by just six votes, after Democrat Rita Hart ended her 2020 election challenge before the U.S. House in March.
In Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, is being challenged by Democrat Liz Mathis, a nonprofit leader and state legislator from Hiawatha. Hinson is serving her first term in the U.S. House after unseating first-term Democratic congresswoman Abby Finkenauer in 2020.
Inside Elections last week changed its forecast for both Iowa’s 1st and 2nd Congressional District campaigns in the Democratic candidates’ favor, from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” The Cook Political Report, though, lists the races as “likely Republican.”
As Axios reported, the additional buy from the Congressional Leadership Fund is seen as a response to growing talk about Democrats finding a narrow path to maintain their majority in the midterm elections, with candidates and allied groups hoping to capitalize on voter backlash to abortion restrictions, signs of improvements in the economy and opposition to those aligned with former President Donald Trump.
Wyoming House candidate Harriet Hageman to campaign with Iowa GOP
Wyoming Republican Harriet Hageman, who defeated incumbent Republican Liz Cheney in a primary for the state’s sole U.S. House seat this month, will head to Iowa to campaign for Republican House candidates.
“Harriet Hageman fought back against the D.C. swamp and WON,” Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann said in a press release. “That is exactly our goal here in Iowa: send a clear message to the Democrat elite that we are fed up with them trying to control our lives.”
Hageman will join events with the Republican Party of Iowa, the Polk County Republicans, and the Scott County Republicans between Oct. 10 and 11.
Cheney has been outspoken in criticism of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and is one of two Republicans on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 capitol riot.
Her opposition to Trump drew criticism from state and national Republicans, inviting a primary challenge from Hageman in the Aug. 16 primary. Hageman won with 66.3% of the vote, while Cheney received 28.9%.