mike franken senate

A new Democrat has entered the race to take on incumbent Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak.

Retired Vice Admiral Mike Franken announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 U.S. Senate election in Iowa Aug. 26. Franken’s campaign has so far highlighted his naval experience.

“For almost 40 years in the Navy I had to make a lot of tough calls while commanding a destroyer, and participating in nine of 11 named operations since Sept. 11., and leading U.S. forces in Africa to fight the pirates and terrorists as a three-star admiral,” Franken said in his campaign announcement video.

Since serving in the U.S. Navy, Franken has moved back to Iowa and launched his campaign out of Sioux City.

Should Franken secure his party’s nomination over several other candidates, he will face Ernst in the November 2020 general election.

Businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, businessman Eddie Mauro and attorney Kimberly Graham are also seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination. Greenfield has been endorsed by former presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a committee dedicated to electing Democratic senators.

Franken was born and raised in “rural northwest Iowa,” according to a biography on his campaign website. His biography adds he worked as a farm hand, welder, construction worker, truck driver and in his father’s machine shop.

The candidate graduated from the University of Nebraska’s College of Engineering and the College of Physics at the Naval Postgraduate School. He served in several positions in the U.S. Navy including: director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency; command of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa; and vice director for Strategy, Plans and Policy at U.S. Central Command.

His campaign biography said Franken’s years of military service “taught Mike how government should work,” noting he served as “the first military officer” on the staff of late-Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

In his campaign announcement video, Franken said his military experience in the U.S. Capitol is how he would stand up to negative influences. A main point of his candidacy has been he was the only person in a room of leaders that opposed going to war in Iraq, showing his ability to be alone on an issue.

“I was trained to not bow to political pressure,” Franken said.

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