Lynn Evans defeated a young Trumper who parachuted into Sanborn for the Iowa Senate. State Representative Dennis Bush got pushed around in his home county of Cherokee by a governor-approved state trooper. A retired Navy Admiral, Mike Franken, will be Chuck Grassley’s toughest opponent since 1959. And our friend Kathy Croker is expected to be on the November ballot as the Republican nominee for Buena Vista County Supervisor. from District 1 under written primary votes Tuesday – good on it.
It was as interesting a primary as we remembered (because we forgot most of it).
For starters, Evans has come out of retirement as superintendent of the Alta-Aurelia school to become our next state senator, God willing. Evans easily issued a challenge to Anthony LaBruna, who convinced a state election commission that he really lived in Sanborn. LaBruna came from California to the state of Iowa, worked for Steve King for a while, then in Trump’s Commerce Department. The right wing was never in love with Evans as he was considered too pragmatic. So LaBruna stepped in. He said he was from Storm Lake. But no. Then Sanborn, but he had a post office box from Storm Lake. And another state board found that he hadn’t filed campaign returns but was spending a fair amount of money, so he was fined $400. Although Evans won by a large margin.
We hope Evans and Rep. Megan Jones, R-Sioux Rapids, facing the challenge of Storm Lake Democrat Jim Eliason, will stand firm on public education that has been attacked by the Reynolds administration. It will be a difficult position to hold.
Reynolds endorsed nine Statehouse candidates in the Republican primaries. Four of them won, including Zach Dieken, a gendarme from Granville. Dieken passed Bush, a farmer from Cleghorn (who beat Evans in a primary to win that House seat). Bush was even beaten in Cherokee County. He was defeated in O’Brien County (neither candidate made much visible effort in western Buena Vista County). Dieken strongly favored the good guys to win the governor’s approval. That slap on the back didn’t beat Bush in Cherokee, but hubris did, and the failure to recognize how conservative the district is, and the mistaken impression that people who care about bolstering public education are voting in the Republican primaries.
For the first time, we think Chuck Grassley could be defeated. Retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken easily beat Abby Finkenauer, a former congresswoman, for the Democratic nomination. Franken, 64, has what it takes to bring down Grassley, 88, who has served in the Senate since 1981 and held public office since 1959.
Even Steve Anderson is fed up with the senator. Anderson, CEO of Merrill Manufacturing, held town hall meetings in Grassley with his employees for many years. He praised Grassley’s support of the hydrant industry. Still, Anderson had a Jim Carlin sign outside the office on Flindt Drive. Anderson, like more than a quarter of Republicans who voted Tuesday, is fed up with the man who was a maverick. It’s a lot.
Grassley got his ears scorched at Columbus Junction town hall last week for guns. It’s not Iowa City. Grassley said he wanted to wait and see. The crowd did not go there. Things are hectic for the incumbents, especially for those willing to wait and see.
No one can target Franken talking about guns. He shot the big ones from destroyers. He’s no snowflake – he’s from Sioux County, worked at the Lebanon Slaughter Shop and Machine Shop, and worked his way up to Fleet Command Africa when Ebola broke out and was brought under control. It’s a tough resume. Franken also speaks loudly — about standing up for the Constitution and law and order, about how farmers and rural communities got screwed while Grassley was dancing, about stopping the killing of children.
Most Iowans didn’t want Grassley to run again. Franken polls show the challenger is within reach. The climate is hostile to incumbents. Grassley is Grassley, the most popular politician in our lifetime. Many people think that one life is long enough. Franken could be the one, if ever, tipping these independent voters.