Updated: Jan 28
It can get pretty frustrating for a progressive in Iowa. For a state that once regularly elected populists to office, it has turned sharply to the right-- both in terms of conservative Democrats and, even worse, Republicans. The whole state is controlled by the GOP now. The only Democrats in statewide office are two hold-overs from ancient times, state Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald (first elected in 1983) and Attorney General Tom Miller (first elected in 1995). Both U.S. Senators, the governor and everyone else are Republicans. The GOP holds 60 seats in the state House to 40 for the Democrats and there are 32 Republicans in the state Senate compared to 18 Dems. Of the 4 members of Congress, just one, very conservative-- and worthless-- Democrat Cindy Axne isn't a Republican.
Today the only two real progressives who I knew of running in the state-- Dr. Glenn Hurst for the U.S. Senate and Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz for a state Senate seat in a deep blue part of Des Moines (as an independent)-- were joined by another all in progressive reformer, our old pal Austin Frerick. This evening Hurst told me that "Austin Frerick has an understanding of economics and agriculture in Iowa that none can rival. When you hear the word 'antitrust' associated with agriculture, it means Austin is nearby. His ability to translate that vast knowledge into a language and a series of actions that all Iowans can support is his gift. Austin supplied the language we now use to talk about the agricultural industry in this state and his addition to the progressive voices in the Iowa Senate is exactly what we need. I was proud to support Austin in his past races and endeavors and am glad to be with him again on the campaign trail in Iowa. He has a vision. He has leadership. He has the wisdom that can make a difference." This was from his 2016 congressional campaign:
Today he alerted his supporters-- like Blue America-- that he's also running for the state Senate seat to represent district 37, which covers parts of Cedar Rapids and Marion. (A 7th generation Iowan, Frerick is a Cedar Rapids native). He wrote that "Over the past few years, I’ve written and spoken on growing economic concentration and on reforming the American food system in favor of farmers, workers, small businesses, and communities, with articles published in national outlets from Vox to the American Conservative. Now I’m ready to put these ideas into action."
I’m running to offer a new vision for the Democratic Party and for the people of Iowa. As someone who comes from a working-class family and is the first in his family to graduate from college, I know what it means to put in the hard work and dedication to do better.
As State Senator, I will confront Iowa’s water crisis, which impacts Iowans through higher water bills, lower home values, and reduced quality of life. I will also fight against Kim Reynolds and the Republican attempts to increase taxes on the middle-class and cut vital services to Iowans. Finally, I will work to ensure that local farms and businesses have a fair shot to compete against powerful foreign corporations.
An nationally-known expert in anti-trust issues around Big Ag, he's an important voice on agricultural issues and an advocate for sensible food system reform who has been fighting to level the playing field in favor of family farmers, workers, and consumers and was co-chair of Biden's Agriculture Antitrust Policy Committee. His campaign platform is here. Please consider helping his campaign-- and building a progressive bench in Iowa-- by clicking on the 2022 state legislative thermometer on the left-- and giving what you can.