The Marion County Democrats welcomed Admiral Michael Franken to Knoxville on Nov. 23.
Franken is running for the United States Senate, challenging Senator Joni Ernst for her seat in next year’s election. Franken began his campaign in August and joined the field of three other democratic candidates challenging Ernst, including Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield and Eddie Mauro.
Franken is a retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy, where he served for 36 years before retiring in October 2017. Throughout his military career Franken had 11 different jobs in Washington D.C., oversaw the authorization of a $150 billion budget and served as an aide for Senator Ted Kennedy.
“I think that his background and his commitment to public service and education will make him a fine replacement for Joni Ernst,” said Ann Fields, Chair of the Marion County Democrats.
Throughout his life, Franken says he worked as a farmhand, welder, machinist, truck driver, mechanic, bartender, bar manager, engineer for a law firm, and ran the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action accounting agency. His time in the military included a large emphasis in legislative affairs.
“It gave me a broad perspective,” Franken said. “Moving 28 times in my career on four continents, you see the difference in good governance and not so good governance.”
Franken says he decided to run for Senate because he saw the demand for someone grounded in Iowa values, but who also had experience on capital hill and understood where the country needed to go as a nation.
“I saw the democratic party needed to proffer a candidate that negated many things that got Joni Ernst elected to begin with,” Franken said. “Having a resume such as mine, if there is a calling to get involved in politics during a particularly vexing time, not is the time.”
Franken’s campaign platform is threefold. He wants to address climate change from a rural perspective, address comprehensive healthcare and work against special interest. Franken says he wants to ensure the rungs of success are there for other Iowans, as they once were for him.
“We need to be the face of rural America again, for social justice, for business that works, for small town America,” Franken said. “I remember small town America as places where people moved to. Today many towns have become husks of themselves.”
Although he has lived in across the globe throughout his career, Franken says he has always maintained and stayed true to his rural roots. He recently bought a home in northwest Iowa, rather than staying in Washington, D.C.
Franken believes he is the best candidate for the job, saying he is self-actualized in Washington, D.C. having lived there six times over the course of his career. He is comfortable talking with republicans and “telling them where their future is misaligned with society.”
“I think I’m the person who has the largest breadth as a candidate,” Franken said. “I certainly won’t go to Washington with training wheels.”