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Drake Library Hosts Democratic Senate Forum

Gregory Garcia
Tom Fiegen spoke on issues concerning Iowans during Thursday’s forum. Photo by Michael Cummings.

Michael Cummings, News Editor

Grinnell students got well-accustomed to seeing presidential candidates in town and on campus last semester, but such events have been on the decline since the Iowa Caucus in February. That all changed Thursday night as three Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate stopped by Drake Library for a candidate forum.

The candidates included Rob Hogg, a current State Senator from Cedar Rapids, Bob Krause, a former State Representative and Tom Fiegen, a former State Senator. Absent from the forum was former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, a fourth candidate who has been endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The forum was kicked off by Austin Wadle ’18, the President of the College and Young Democrats of Iowa. After Wadle’s introduction, the forum was moderated by Maura Strassberg, a law professor at Drake University. Strassberg would ask a policy question and then allow each of the candidates two minutes to give their input. Topics ranged from the environment to abortion to foreign policy.

Tom Fiegen spoke on issues concerning Iowans during Thursday’s forum. Photo by Michael Cummings.
Tom Fiegen spoke on issues concerning Iowans during Thursday’s forum. Photo by Michael Cummings.

While all three of the candidates landed in similar positions on most issues, each had a couple of moments of difference.

“One of the fundamental reasons why I’m running for the United States Senate … is the need for our country to act on climate change and clean water and other issues of environmental sustainability,” Hogg said. “On climate change, the science is unequivocal that this problem will get significantly worse unless we take significant action.”

An issue close to Krause’s heart is the disproportionate number of people of color imprisoned in Iowa.

“My wife is a Maori, from New Zealand … my stepson, Luke, came to the United States, all the way to Fairfield, Iowa, and did what little kids do – he was about 17, I think,” Krause explained. “He found the liquor cabinet and he invited two little girls over, and one of their mothers complained, and the cops came.”

Krause went on to explain how his son was arrested, implying that he was treated in a way that a white teen would not have been.

“There are a lot of breaks in the system, and the breaks are taken away from people of color incrementally,” he said.

Fiegen spoke strongly about the issue of support for veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“My son-in-law did two tours in Iraq. My brother did a tour in Iraq. They know some people who have actually done three tours. You can’t do three tours in a combat zone without it messing you up,” Fiegen said. “The VA does not have enough capacity … I would like to give veterans the option of private care.”

Hogg, Krause, Fiegen and Judge are running against each other in the Democratic Primary on June 7. The winner of that primary will go on to face longtime incumbent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in the general election.

Although the primary is after the end of semester, Grinnell students registered to vote in Iowa can participate in early voting today, May 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in JRC 101.

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