116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
With fewer than 100 days until the June 7 primary election, Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Franken has shaken up the leadership of his campaign.
Franken, who is seeking his party’s nomination to face U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley in the general election, has brought in veteran Democratic operative Julie Stauch as his campaign manager.
Rather than seeing the change in leadership as a reason for concern, Stauch said her fellow Iowa Democrats should see it as “more reflective of the campaign going to another level.”
Staff changes happen in campaigns, Stauch said.
“I think it means we're a normal campaign.”
She’s convinced the primary is winnable for Franken, 64, who grew up in rural northwest Iowa and served 36 years in the Navy, retiring as vice admiral. His career included posts as a commander of the USS Winston S. Churchill, as a legislative affairs adviser to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and as deputy director of military operations for the U.S. Africa Command.
He was a late entry in the 2020 Democratic Senate primary and finished second in a five-way race with 25 percent of the vote.
Stauch spent Monday on the phone with supporters, some who have expressed concerns the campaign wasn’t organized, wasn’t responsive and wasn’t displaying the urgency they thought was needed in this year’s four-way race. In addition to Franken, the field includes former 1st District Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids, Minden physician Glenn Hurst and Burlington veterans advocate Bob Krause.
Franken, who reported raising about $750,000 since launching his campaign in October, said he raised $300,000 in January. While less than the nearly $2 million Finkenauer reported, it’s considered sufficient to run a primary campaign.
The Franken campaign is counting on innovation to make the difference in the race.
“We have to be the most innovative campaign,” Stauch said. “We're going to end up doing some things that haven't been done before.”
Obviously, she said, there’s a big push on raising money. However, it’s not just a question of how much Franken raises, but how he uses his resources.
“It's a combination of strategy, tactics and cash” said Stauch, who has an extensive resume in Iowa and national campaigns, most recently as political director for Pete Buttigieg’s White House bid. She’s worked on local, state and congressional races as well as for advocacy groups and private businesses.
Also joining the Franken campaign is Monica Biddix, a political consultant who has worked on a number of Iowa campaigns.
Franken is campaigning in Eastern Iowa this week, including a stop Friday in Cedar Rapids. He’ll be at Raygun, 1028 Third St. SE, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for a meet-and-greet.
On Saturday, he’ll be at McOtto’s Restaurant in Anamosa from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at Single Speed Brewery in Waterloo from 5 to 6 p.m.
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