Trying to unseat Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, Democrat Mike Franken campaigned Monday, Sept. 16 at The Depot in Shenandoah.
Originally from Sioux County, he retired in 2017 as a three-star admiral from the U.S. Navy. Franken resides in Sioux City. He announced his candidacy in August.
Franken said he would bring his wide variety of life experiences to the office, and will go to Washington D.C. “without training wheels and without being owned by anyone” and he is not mono-dimensional.
“I am a military person, but I consider myself first an Iowan,” said Franken. “ I am very much attached to the Iowa values. My career gave me a wide perspective, so I see things maybe slightly different, but if you ask me why I say something about that I’ll give you a perspective which is rather broad. But every time I like to come down to what it means here in Iowa. I am a technical person. I have a high degree of empathy.”
Franken touched on a wide variety of subjects during his speech
“Mother nature is a national security issue, and it’s being neglected,” he said.
Franken explained the use of ethanol by changing the heat equation of ethanol plants and how others can benefit.
“You change the heat equation. The co2 (carbon dioxide) give off becomes an enhanced co2 for grow houses. The water give off becomes an irrigation for the grow houses. The heat becomes a 12 month out of the year, three different crop grow houses. Imagine Iowa’s ethanol plants being the Salinas Valley of vegetables and fruit. The science is there. So it doesn’t become a discussion between ethanol and big oil. It becomes a discussion about farm to table, better utilization of our BTU, to grow food, to better diet, to fight diet problems that we have in this country.”
His ideas for ethanol plants may also benefit where he had his career.
“It just becomes a national security issue,” said Franken. “Today something less than some 20% of our youth are available for military service. I think the number is 17%. A lot of that is diet.” (because they failed the physical test?)
Franken has no intentions of changing the presidential election process as others have alluded to after past elections.
“If I was purely an Iowan I would say keep the electoral college, “ he said.
Franken said the electoral college works against Democrats and the broader discussion is politics is the distance between culture and where the legislation fits.
“You see our Democratic candidates are in this between area and they are trying to close this distance between culture as we exist today and politics as it exists today, and I think today generally we have the Republicans on the other side pulling back,” said Franken.
For Democrats, Franken said it’s best for them to study this some more, but in the end, he said people would be better serviced as a country if every vote counted equally and the electoral college probably does the people a disservice in that respect.
“Iowa being first in the gate the way we are, we will still get our due attention,” he said. “For choosing Senate candidates, I give Iowans a lot of pro credit. I think we can do this. We choose presidential candidates, we should perhaps let higher offices dictate who runs for office and who attains office in this state and it’s kind of an inverse corollary to the electoral college discussion.”
Franken said he’s running to use Iowa’s benefits.
“The reason I’m doing this, Iowa has a lot to offer. We need to un-shield, unsheath ourselves, and go for it,” said Franken. “That’s my vision for the state. “
Other Democrat candidates for the Senate seat include Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield and Eddie Mauro.
Franken and his wife Jordan of 30 years have two children. His mother was a school teacher who put a strong emphasis on education.
Franken received a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a master’s degree from the College of Physics at the Naval Postgraduate School, did professional studies at MIT, attended University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and Brookings Institute.
was his first time in Shenandoah and said that the town reminded him of the movie “Shenandoah,” the 1965 film starring Jimmy Stewart.