Mike Franken runs for senate

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken, a Sioux Center native, is running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat against incumbent Republican senator Joni Ernst. He made the announcement on Monday, Aug. 26.

SIOUX CENTER—Sioux Center native and retired Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken announced his bid for the U.S. Senate on Monday, Aug. 26.

This marks Franken’s first run for elected office, as he joins three other Iowa Democrats facing off against Republican senator Joni Ernst, who is running for her second term in the 2020 race.

The other three Democrats running are Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield and Eddie Mauro.

Franken, the youngest of nine children, is a graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska, and he earned his master’s degree from the College of Physics at the Naval Postgraduate School.

He now lives in Sioux City.

Franken made his career in the Navy, having served for nearly 40 years there and ultimately attaining the rank of vice admiral. He retired from military service in 2017.

As he said in his campaign video announcing his candidacy Aug. 26, he participated in nine named military operations since 9/11 and has led U.S. forces fighting against piracy and terrorism in Africa.

In the video, Franken pointed to a particular moment in 2002, when he was a captain. The George W. Bush administration had Pentagon officials meet to vote on one of three plans for the invasion of Iraq.

He was against the idea entirely.

“One thing was clear; the occupation of Iraq would be a disaster,” Franken said. “I alone in the room voted for a fourth option: No.”

He wasn’t surprised that everyone else in the room — military officials and politicians — did the White House’s bidding, and he was disappointed when Congress likewise approved moving ahead with the invasion.

Franken said in his video announcement, “Today, Washington is even worse. The Republicans are afraid to even stand up to Donald Trump, and D.C. Democrats aren’t bold enough to confront the climate crisis, the health care industry and Wall Street.”