116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The calendar says March 2021, but Scott and Linda Foens were thinking about November 2022 when they launched a 'Draft Mike Franken for US Senate — Iowa' Facebook page Monday.
When they read the results of a Des Moines Register poll that found more than one out of every two Iowans hopes U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley doesn't run for re-election next year, the Foenses were 'a bit surprised, Scott said.
The poll showed 55 percent of Iowans hope Grassley, 87, doesn't seek an eighth term in 2022. Also, Grassley's job approval rating was the lowest it has been in nearly four decades — 48 percent.
'I take that kind of those kinds of numbers seriously,' Scott Foens said. 'If the Democrats can run the right candidate against Grassley, or if Grassley decides not to run, then we have a real shot of winning.'
In the opinion of the Marion couple, who backed Franken when he sought the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst last year, Franken is head and shoulders above other potential candidates.
'We still think he's absolutely the best Democratic candidate out there to represent Iowa in the Senate,' Scott said.
Linda Foens recently tagged Franken in a post about the 2022 Senate race.
'Immediately a bunch of people started messaging me saying, 'Let's go,'' she said. They asked if Franken had indicated whether he was interested.
'Everything indicates he has not closed the door,' she said.
Franken confirmed Monday afternoon that he has not ruled out running in 2022.
'But I haven't made a decision to do it, either,' he said. 'There is a cast of hundreds of people in the state that I need to converse with' as well as others before making a decisions.
Those conversations have begun. Franken, 63, recently dined with Democratic state senators and 'influencers.' They talked about what it would take to run, including what the Democratic Party would need to do to reverse near-term voting trends in Iowa.
Whether or not Grassley runs, Franken said it will take a 'Herculean effort ... because the state, frankly, isn't nearly as purple as it used to be.'
'In a time of really conflicted politics, you need to convince people that are emotionally tied to one tether when, perhaps, the facts may be elsewhere, but they're just not listening nor do they want to listen,' he said.
In explaining their support for Franken, the Foenses talked about his experience, his willingness to meet with people and answer every question when he ran in the 2020 primary. Despite a late start, Franken finished second in a five-way race to Theresa Greenfield, who lost to Ernst.
'You may not necessarily agree with it, but he could lay out a coherent rationale for why he believed what he believed,' Scott said. 'He was genuine. He was honest'
'There wasn't a topic off-limits,' Linda added. 'He would take every question and just crush it with every answer.'
Franken is a retired three-star admiral who grew up on a rural northwest Iowa farm. His career included commanding 24 ships and overseeing American military forces in Africa, and years in policy, strategy and planning roles for the Department of Defense.
Franken described himself as being pragmatic enough to 'achieve the achievable' and progressive enough to 'aim for the heretofore unachievable.'
Franken expects Grassley to seek another term. By not announcing his plans until later this year, Grassley 'certainly freezes out viable Democratic candidates because of the potency of his candidacy,' Franken said.
One Republican, state Sen. Jim Carlin of Sioux City, has announced he will run in the 2022 GOP primary regardless of Grassley's decision.
'A lot can happen in six months, but I think the prudent person would expect that he would run again. Betting otherwise would be a fool's pursuit,' Franken said.
After the 2020 primary, Franken went to work with the Biden campaign in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and, for a time, South Dakota. Since the election, he's been working with think tanks, mentoring young professionals 'and taking some time off.'
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