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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Retired Admiral Michael Franken confirmed Monday that pending a clean bill of health from his doctors he plans to run for the U.S. Senate.
Franken, 63, joins a field of Democrats who have announced their intentions to challenge Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley in 2022. Franken finished second in the Democratic primary race to challenge Sen. Joni Ernst last year.
Although his announcement wasn’t expected until fall, Franken hasn’t been keeping his plans under wraps.
“I'm fixing a last-minute medical issue at Walter Reed,” he told Linn County Democrats recently. “Once that's in the rearview mirror and I get a clean bill of health and I can do pushups with Chuck Grassley, I'll do my very best to represent the state of Iowa in the U.S. Senate.”
Grassley, 87, has been known to demonstrate his fitness by doing pushups at his events. He plans to announce his reelection plans in October or November.
Franken, who was in Washington on Monday, did not offer details of his health issue, but said he wanted Iowans to understand why he hasn’t been out on the campaign trail.
So far, former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, Manning farmer and rancher Dave Muhlbauer and Minden physician Glenn Hurst have entered the race for the Democratic nomination.
In his comments to the Linn County Democrats, Franken said the party cannot allow “the philosophically unhinged to win a majority in the Senate.”
His concern goes beyond the Senate.
“I question the judgment of a large segment of America to make the right choices about fairness, equality and for the well-being of the next generation,” Franken said. “I don't trust them with the environment. I question their intent to educate our children. I don't trust them not to start crazy wars.
“Frankly, I question their desire to preserve democracy,” he said.
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.”
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