116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DeWITT — Eleven Democratic candidates — running for statewide offices, Congress and local offices — rallied supporters at a soapbox-style event Sunday in Clinton County.
Mike Franken, who's running to unseat longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, assured the Democrats his campaign would "work really, really hard to win this election," saying he was planning to attend six campaign events per day after he debates Grassley on Oct. 6.
For the most part, the candidates stuck to their stump speeches during the rally at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in DeWitt.
Franken didn't mention, and neither did other candidates, allegations that Franken kissed a former campaign staffer on the mouth earlier this year, which Franken denies happened.
Clinton County Democrats greeted Franken with a standing ovation, and several Democrats told a reporter they didn't see the allegations playing a major role in their enthusiasm for Franken, 64, a retired Navy admiral from Sioux City.
"No, not at all," Heather Bjorgan, a dean at Black Hawk College, saying the allegations — which the Polk County Attorney’s Office decided were unfounded — would have to reach the courts before they could have greater bearing on the race.
"That person deserves to have their day in court. And they should pursue that wherever is appropriate," Bjorgan said of the allegation by Franken’s former campaign director Kimberly Strope-Boggus. "... But I think there's enough momentum behind Franklin to not have that be something that negatively impacts him."
Rita Hart, chairwoman of the Clinton County Democrats and a former congressional candidate who hosted the campaign event, said she didn't consider changing the event or its format after the allegations surfaced last week.
"There were a lot of accusations made, and the rest of us, I think, just have to wait and see what happens going forward and hope that everyone is doing everything we can to make sure that this is a safe place for all of us," Hart said.
Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller, the nation’s longest serving attorney general, said Clinton County “is such an important swing county for us."
Registered Republicans lead Democrats in the county, 9,253 to 8,497, with 9,907 no-party voters leading both parties.
Deidre DeJear, the Democratic candidate for governor, and her running mate, Erin Van Lancker, the Clinton County auditor, talked about the further investments they want to make in K-12 education, as did Democratic legislative candidates.
Kay Pence of Eldridge, the Democrat challenging Republican Rep. Norlin Mommsen of DeWitt in House District 70, also noted the Natural Resources Fund for water quality, state parks and recreation, remains unfunded years after voters approved the fund.
Other Democrats speaking on Sunday were Secretary of State candidate Joel Miller, the Linn County auditor, Secretary of Agriculture candidate John Norwood and State Auditor Rob Sand.