Regulatory policy

Foreign policy and ethanol shed light between Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Iowa

Abby Finkenauer waves as she arrives Nov. 2, 2019, during a fundraiser at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids. (The Gazette)

Mike Franken speaks November 11, 2021 during a campaign stop at Raygun in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Glenn Hurst poses for a photo in 2021 in front of the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. (Photo provided)

DES MOINES — Hard-line differences over when to send U.S. troops to Ukraine and over ethanol policy were among the few contrasts to emerge in a Saturday night televised debate between Democratic Senate candidates American in Iowa.

Mike Franken, a retired three-star US Navy admiral from Sioux City, was the only candidate to establish a scenario in which he would send US troops to Ukraine to help defend the country against the Russian military invasion, which in is in its third month.

“There are problems associated with being the broad-shouldered democracy of the world. And I do believe, however, that if (Russian President) Vladimir Putin uses a nuclear weapon against Ukraine, like-minded countries like the United States and others should put American souls alongside other nations to help to pick up the internal pieces in Ukraine,” Franken mentioned. “It’s a red line. We have to move on, we cannot let the use of weapons of mass destruction against a large population and a democracy ever be used and go unanswered.

Abby Finkenauer, a former congresswoman and state legislator from Cedar Rapids, and Glenn Hurst, a physician from Minden, both said the United States should support economic sanctions against Russia and provide assistance in the form of arms and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but should not dedicate US troops.

“I’m in favor of us doing everything we can unless we send American troops to support Ukraine, whether it’s additional spending that we send, in terms of weapons, to make sure they have what they need,” Finkenauer said.

Says Hurst, “We should send humanitarian efforts to all the refugees who are pouring into Poland and the countries surrounding Ukraine. We should open the borders here in Iowa to bring more refugees into our community.

Finkenauer, Franken and Hurst are vying for the Democratic Party nomination in Iowa’s 2022 U.S. Senate campaign.

The incumbent is Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, who is seeking an eighth six-year term. He also faces a primary challenge, from attorney and Sioux City state legislator Jim Carlin.

Grassley is widely expected to survive the main challenge, and the three Democrats clearly agree, as all took turns criticizing the longtime U.S. senator from Iowa.

Iowa’s primary election is June 7. Early voting begins May 18.

The second and only other scheduled televised debate for the Senate Democratic primary will take place on Iowa PBS and its statewide affiliates. This debate will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on May 19.

The candidates also had varying views on ethanol policy. The renewable fuels industry supports about 37,000 jobs in Iowa and contributes nearly $4 billion to the state’s GDP, according to the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

Finkenauer said she supports President Joe Biden’s use of an emergency rule to lift the federal ban on the higher E15 ethanol blend sold during the summer driving months. She also said the federal government must ensure that oil companies comply with federal regulations on ethanol blends.

“This is the time when we should use what Iowa does best, and we need to make sure we support this industry,” Finkenauer said. “But (also) make sure these big oil companies don’t just bend the rules.”

Franken said he also supports selling E15s year-round, but said that should be seen as a temporary fix. He said the government should look for alternative uses for ethanol, such as in fuel for planes or ships, or for power generation.

“We have the latitude and the topsoil and the initiative and the intelligence in this state to rebuild the energy grid,” Franken said. “And ethanol will be on the useful side.”

Hurst said the government should move away from funding ethanol production as more new vehicles will be powered by electricity. He said the government should encourage Iowa farmers to grow another crop, and as an example he cited hemp, its oils and its fibers.

“Vehicles are going to be (electric), and we can as a state either try to extract every little drop of ethanol as much as we can or we can take a step-by-step idea of ​​introducing a third crop into our duopoly of corn and soybeans and make it a profitable hub, a profitable market for Iowa farmers,” Hurst said.

In a statement, Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said Democratic candidates in Iowa’s U.S. Senate campaign occupy “extreme” positions that are out of step with Iowa.

“The people of Iowa know these candidates don’t have the backbone to stand up to Joe Biden and their National Party,” Kaufmann said in the statement. “As inflation continues to soar, the crisis at the border worsens, and the future of our country looks increasingly bleak, the only solution for these Democrats is to continue on the path of socialism. .”

The hour-long debate was hosted and broadcast live by four Iowa television stations: KCCI-TV in Des Moines, KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, KTIV-TV in Sioux City and KWQC-TV in Davenport.

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