Politico | October 6, 2022

"Iowa has long been thought of as one of the few purple states, oscillating between Republican and Democratic control. But that is changing, with most political offices at all levels more reliably red and with Republican presidential candidates winning the state by increasingly large margins over the past few elections. The expectation was that 2022 would be brutal for Democrats in a state where Biden polls terribly. Biden has never even won the majority of the Democrats in Iowa; he lost three attempts at the caucuses in 1988, 2008 and 2020. And midterms are typically bad for the party in power.

As a result, funding from the Democratic Party has dried up, along with organizing infrastructure, and all the big names in the Iowa Democratic Party chose to sit this year out. As one Iowa lobbyist, who was granted anonymity because they were concerned about maintaining a positive working relationship with politicians in both parties, told me, 'It’s the Iowa Democratic D-listers’ time to shine.'

D-lister might be a good term for Franken: Franken won the primary after Abby Finkenauer, the former congresswoman, faced a legal challenge over allegations that her ballot signatures weren’t properly dated. Finkenauer had been favored to win. But after the challenge to her candidacy failed before the state election board, two Republican activists sued to get her off the ballot. Two months before the primary, a state judge ruled that three of her signatures were invalid, taking her name off the ballot. The state Supreme Court overturned that ruling, but it seemed her allies in the state were already done. Local pundits chided her for carelessness. Finkenauer stayed on the ballot but lost the primary.


In April, Kimberley Strope-Boggus a Democratic organizer, and Franken’s former campaign manager, filed an incident report with the Des Moines police department about the kiss, which she alleged happened in March. The police report included details of the alleged misdemeanor assault, which the police subsequently decided was 'unfounded' and prosecutors declined to investigate further, citing 'insufficient evidence and information to pursue a criminal investigation.' The report came to light when a conservative Iowa website published it in September.


It’s also a liability. Franken is usually ready to tell an off-color story and often unfiltered to the point of concerning aides. Now, after the allegation, those qualities are looking even more like a liability.

After a 37-year career in the Navy, including time leading Operation Enduring Freedom in the Horn of Africa, Franken resigned because Donald Trump was elected, and decided to run for office again, he said, after the January 6 insurrection.

He’s quick with a wild drinking story. One he told me as we were driving to a campaign event was about the last time he got seriously drunk was in 1983 as a Navy officer in Bahrain. As he was telling me the story, JD Scholten, the campaign volunteer who was driving us, looked up in the rearview mirror of the black Ford Explorer. Scholten ran twice against former Iowa Congressman Steve King, who has a history of making racist remarks, and is now running for an Iowa House seat in an uncontested race. So he’s helping Franken’s campaign. Scholten has heard this story before, but still, his eyebrows raised in the rearview mirror.

He got so drunk, Franken continued, he passed out at a picnic with a piece of goat meat in his hand. When he woke up hours later, he had to report back for duty.

So he walked the long walk back to the ship. When he got there, his executive officer looked at him and said, 'Mr. Franken?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Would you like to put shoes on?'


In a statement, sent to me over text, Strope-Boggus told me, 'Anyone who knows me, knows that I am honest to a fault. Michael Franken kissed me without my consent. It happened. And now, again, without my consent, I am being mentioned by both sides as though I am a disposable pawn in the political machine. I hope we can all take a step back and look at how we treat women who come forward and how we react to their stories. What happened to me and what is happening now is not my fault. It’s his. That has always been, and will remain, the truth.'

According to the police report, when the investigating officer asked Strope-Boggus if she thought Franken 'did these things in an aggressive or sexual manner,' Strope-Boggus said no, explaining that Franken 'has an old fashioned view of how to interact with women' and that she believes that Franken thinks hugging and kissing women is 'part of his charm.'

'Kimberly did not describe any sexual intent nor any intent to harm either her or any of the other women,' the report also notes.

A woman with knowledge of the incident, who was granted anonymity to avoid retaliation from Democrats in the state, concurred in this estimation of Franken, comparing the allegations against Franken to the allegations againstBiden, when women accused the then-vice president of behavior that made them feel uncomfortable. She noted that Franken “frequently crossed boundaries with women,” kissing them on the cheek and hugging them."

Read the full story here.


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