Iowa 2016 Senate Race: Here's What You Should Know About the Candidates

Iowa 2016 Senate Race: Here's What You Should Know About the Candidates

While Iowa is the focus of the national election coverage with the Iowa caucuses Feb. 1, the state will also elect a member to the U.S. Senate in November. Incumbent Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley will seek re-election — and if he wins, he will be 89 years old by the end of his term. But four candidates are also seeking the spot, all of whom are members of the Democratic Party.

Tom Fiegen

Fiegen, a former bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa state senator, will run against Grassley in the upcoming election, and with it, a focus on the younger voters of the Hawkeye State. Case in point: Fiegen is one of the few Democratic senators who has endorsed Vermont Sen. and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Like Sanders, Fiegen has spoken out against the Democratic National Committee's approach to the election, and has suggested the nomination is rigged in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "There is a sense the DNC is trying to turn this into an inevitable coronation, and it rubs people the wrong way," Fiegen said, according to the Washington Times. "People are frustrated at how small the [debate] venue was and the lack of transparency from the DNC of how it was handled — the allocation of tickets was a total secret."

Rob Hogg 

Hogg has set his campaign focus on addressing climate change and improving various government programs, such as Social Security and Medicare programs, according to the Des Moines Register. Additionally, he is "near-universally known and routinely rates as the most popular politician in Iowa," according to the Register

As of Thursday, Hogg has raised around $120,000 in campaign contributions — a promising sign for him. "This shows broad support for my candidacy and a strong desire to make Congress work again for our people, our country and our future," Hogg said, according to Blog for Iowa

Bob Krause

Krause had previously ran against Grassley for the U.S. Senate seat in 2010, but ultimately lost, according to the Des Moines Register. Meanwhile, he's had an extensive career in public service with the Department of Transportation, both on a national and state level. Krause's Democratic bid for November will emphasize a different focus compared to his liberal peers: economic issues.  

"The main issue I'm running on is income: that encompasses low incomes, stagnant incomes and the ability of working people to leverage and raise their own incomes," Krause said, according to the Iowa Daily Democrat

Ray Zirkelbach

Zirkelbach became the fourth Democrat to announce a run in the U.S. Senate race, and his background could be the most intriguing of the group. Though he was a member of the Iowa House, he left his term in 2006 and 2007 while he was on active duty in Iraq — an assignment with which he received a Purple Heart, according to the Gazette

Zirkelbach said he hopes that adding his name will — at the very least — bring "new ideas" to the Senate, according to Iowa Starting Line. "We're going to make it about ideas, and I'd like to see Senator Grassley bring his ideas to the table, fresh ideas, new ideas," Zirkelbach told Iowa Starting Line

A Grassley re-election: Of course, if any of the Democratic candidates hope to claim the seat, they'll have to get through Grassley, which is a tall task. He's held the office since 1981, and even at 82 (he'd be 89 by the end of the next term, if he wins), Grassley will visit 99 counties as part of his re-election tour, according to the Sioux City Journal

"Grassley is considered the gold standard for how to keep contact with the people he represents," Bret Hayworth wrote for the Journal. "Some Iowa lawmakers and candidates have taken on his 99-county tour practice, and they readily point to Grassley as the originator."