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Guest Column | Charlie Wishman
Iowa voters have a critical decision to make as they consider the candidates vying to take on Senator Chuck Grassley in November.
For people who care about lifting up working people and holding the corporate elite accountable, defeating Sen. Chuck Grassley has never been more important. Grassley used to be a cornerstone of what public service looked like in this state, but after 47 years in Washington, he’s changed.
As the president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, I’ve watched as Grassley cuts backroom deals with Washington lobbyists, quietly working to undermine Iowa workers, ship jobs overseas, and give corporations massive handouts in return for campaign checks.
Iowans have noticed, and they’ve had enough. That’s why, according to the most recent polling data from the Des Moines Register, Grassley is historically unpopular. It’s why we have a real chance to defeat him if we put forward the right candidate to hold him accountable.
Former Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer brings the values and experience we need in a U.S. Senator, and she can deliver the coalition to defeat Grassley in November.
First, Abby is a lifelong Iowan. She grew up in the small, rural town of Sherrill, north of Dubuque. And she spent four years serving her community in the Iowa House before being elected to Congress.
A central piece of the argument against Grassley is that he has forgotten where he comes from – it’s no wonder he hasn’t been able to deliver for Iowans and has no problem selling us out, the senator has owned property and lived in Northern Virginia for the past quarter of a century!
Second, Abby fights for workers.
Abby grew up in a union home. You’ve probably heard that she’s the daughter of a union pipefitter-welder and a public-school secretary. But coming from a union family alone doesn’t mean she’s committed to putting working families first. You can easily look at her record in the state legislature and in Congress, and it matches her passion for better wages, lower costs, and making lives better for working class families. And make no mistake, that message resonates with voters all across our state. That’s why Abby has the endorsement of over a dozen major labor organizations across the state, including the Iowa Federation of Labor, which represents over 50,000 Iowa workers.
Third, Abby can win, and she’s done it before.
Abby is a coalition builder. I’ve seen how she can unite people of different backgrounds behind a common vision, because she doesn’t fit into the ideological boxes that so many cookie-cutter politicians sort themselves into. In fact, while Grassley has been a dependable vote for the special interests and Republican Party line for decades, Abby wasn’t a member of one of the traditional ideological caucuses in D.C. She took every vote with Iowa’s best interests in mind, and Iowans noticed.
It’s that fiery independence and ability to build coalitions that brought Abby to Congress in 2018, defeating a millionaire incumbent Republican. Abby has outperformed the top of the ticket every time she’s been on the ballot in a federal election, highlighting her appeal with swing voters. She’s the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate who has run tough races, and won.
Republicans know that Abby brings unique strength to the race against Grassley, that’s why they spent tremendous resources in an effort to throw her off the ballot entirely. They failed, and it won’t be the last time they attack her. But Abby is used to the attacks, she’s faced them before, and she’s won.
To retire Grassley in November, we need to put forward a candidate who presents a clear and credible contrast to him. We need a candidate who can energize the Democratic base in a traditionally low turnout midterm election, while still building a coalition of Republicans and Independents who have soured on Grassley over the years.
Iowa Democrats, there is no better contrast to Senator Chuck Grassley, and no one better suited to defeat him, than Abby Finkenauer.
Charlie Wishman is president of the Iowa Federation of Labor.