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‘Old-school’ Democrat makes his case for challenging Grassley
Dave Muhlbauer says he’s an ‘old-school, farming-labor Democrat’
HIAWATHA — At a time when some politicians are using labels like progressive and woke, Dave Muhlbauer prefers more traditional Democratic labels to explain his politics
He’s an “old-school, farming-labor Democrat,” Muhlbauer told Linn County Democrats on Wednesday, who met at Guthridge Park, as he introduced them to his campaign for the U.S. Senate.
He talked about family values, his Iowa work ethic learned on a fifth-generation western Iowa crop and livestock farm and his commitment to public service passed on to him by his father and grandfather, who both served in the Iowa Legislature.
“I didn’t just learn them; I experienced them,” Muhlbauer said, adding that “as Democrats, we’re there to help each other. We’re all in it together and we thrive better when we thrive together.”
At 37, Muhlbauer is 50 years younger than Sen. Chuck Grassley, who he wants to challenge next year.
“I want to be that option, the next generation Iowa leader to take the reins and find common sense solutions,” he said.
“Iowa has a huge promise,” Muhlbauer said.
However, in announcing his campaign on Twitter, he explained he is running “b/c people are fed up. Wages don't buy what they used to as cost of living skyrockets. Big corporations continue to stack the deck against us w/ policy manipulation & lobbying, & CEO's are earning 1000s of times more than workers.”
It is a message he believes will cut across all parts of the Democratic Party and the rural-urban divide that has grown more prominent in recent elections.
Muhlbauer, who raises corn, beans cattle and hogs on his Manilla farm about 100 miles west of Des Moines, understands that running against the iconic Republican will be an uphill challenge. Grassley has won more than 60 percent of the vote in his six re-election races.
Muhlbauer is counting on his plain-spoken style with an emphasis on farming as well as issues that cut across rural-urban lines — education, health care and infrastructure, for example — to appeal to Democrats and no party voters regardless of where they live.
In addition to holding or increasing Democratic margins in Iowa’s urban counties, if he is to be successful, Muhlbauer will have to win back rural voters who have turned away from the Democratic Party in recent elections.
“I’m going to be me,” he said about his strategy. “I’m not pretending to be someone I’m not.”
While Muhlbauer is the first Democrat to get into the race, he expects others will join the field, especially if Grassley chooses not to seek an eighth term.
So far, Grassley hasn’t said if he will run, but many observers speculate that delaying that announcement is an indication that he’s running. He’s expected to make his intentions known this fall.
State Sen. James Carlin of Sioux City is running for the GOP nomination. If Grassley doesn’t run, it’s expected the list of Republicans seeking the nomination will be long.
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