A spirited primary



Eddie Mauro stopped by the office Saturday morning on his way to the Buena Vista County Fair to campaign for the US Senate seat held by Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican. Mauro caught our attention early with tales of state baseball championships he skippered at Des Moines Dowling (How did you do against JD Scholten and Sioux City East? we asked. “We beat him,” Mauro snapped back) and his long association with the Catholic Worker house in Des Moines. He hit our soft spots, and we were glad to host him because:

• We need a Democrat in the US Senate to counter Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has morphed into a poodle for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Iowa was well-represented when Tom Harkin and Grassley worked together for all Iowans. Ernst works for the Koch Brothers, not Iowans.

• Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York again put his thumb on the scale by endorsing Theresa Greenfield of Des Moines before the primary field is set. Schumer should butt out. This is Iowa’s race, not something a bunch of Super PAC bundlers should dictate. Schumer intervened in the primary that gave us Patty Judge as the choice against Grassley, which stunted the field of young progressives for years to come. He is made of Wall Street money that has driven much of rural Iowa out of business.

So we are all for Eddie Mauro getting in. And Greenfield, a tremendous woman who has raised her children as a widow and made herself into a business leader. And Kimberly Graham, an attorney from Indianola. We understand that retired Adm. Michael Franken of Sioux City is considering mounting a bid; good for him.

We must admit to most of our attention being consumed by presidential candidates, and by hopes that Scholten will beat Rep. Steve King in 2020. It is a great opportunity to free Northwest Iowa from the embarrassment and misrepresentation of the Fourth Congressional District. Of course, every Senate race is important. Ernst has a 57% approval rating despite being joined at the brain to Trade War Trump. Scholten made the wise choice to keep his heater trained on King.

Ernst will be tremendously tough to beat. She manages to stay in the background unless she is riding a Harley. She does not display an arrogant lust for power like Grassley; she displays not much at all but a tremendous smile and salute. Whoever offers up himself or herself deserves a measure of gratitude and wonder — you can’t win if you don’t run.

Mauro is the first to campaign in Storm Lake. He spent summers in Carroll at his German grandparents’ house and school years in Des Moines as the son of a well-loved Italian southside family. He is pro-choice but thinks Democrats could temper their language in hopes of winning back the likes of Carroll and Emmetsburg. He founded his own property-casualty insurance business that serves independent agents throughout Iowa. He knows the state, and he understands small business and farming. He taught in Seymour. So he knows what’s going on. He aims to win, and says he learned a lot losing in a congressional primary to Cindy Axne of Des Moines, who unseated David Young, a Republican. He also lost an Iowa legislative primary; Barack Obama did the same in Illinois before taking a Senate seat that appeared tilted against him.

“Iowans deserve a spirited primary, and I’m not afraid to go up against the establishment,” Mauro told us. “We’ll get to the $20 million we need to beat Joni Ernst. She is a Koch creation. Today the varnish has been worn off.”

He said he wants to fight for the rights of immigrants like Tom Harkin would. Sounds good. He said he wants to be the people’s senator (like Chuck Grassley used to be). While Greenfield would be a far sight better than a Koch puppet, it makes you wonder what it means to be owned by the Senate leadership and Wall Street. People like Mauro, Graham and Franken have a stiff headwind ahead of a June 2020 primary. They have our sentiment, at least, for the moment as voters wonder whether all politics is rigged by the uber-wealthy. Answer: It does not have to be, but it is.

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