The Des Moines Register endorsed Tom Fiegen in the Iowa U.S. Senate Democratic Primary on June 8th to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.
Fiegen: Did his homework better on challenging national issues
THE REGISTER'S EDITORIAL • MAY 30, 2010
Iowa Democrats have three choices for a candidate to challenge Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley in November's election. All three deserve credit for the daunting task of trying to unseat a longtime incumbent. Yet none is an especially impressive choice for the job of U.S. senator.
Roxanne Conlin has name recognition, has raised the most money and is an accomplished attorney. She is engaging, dynamic, driven and clearly smart. But we were surprised and disappointed she was not knowledgeable about and so oversimplified the details of important policy.
And she tends to come across as indecisive, most recently when she said during a debate she favored taxing all wages to fund Social Security - then off camera said she didn't support that.
Bob Krause has a wealth of professional experience in transportation and a passion for veterans' health care. He's cordial, but seems ill-prepared to tackle complicated issues.
Tom Fiegen is a bankruptcy attorney with a compelling personal story and friendly demeanor. But he also came across as unnecessarily argumentative by insisting on keeping his notes in a candidate debate in violation of established rules - though he finally backed down.
Iowa Democrats have to choose one of these three. They should reward Fiegen, 51, for preparing best to thoughtfully tackle issues.
He has been a state senator and holds not only a law degree but a master's degree in economics. In fact, he has given so much thought to how the country works, he has his own set of reforms he calls "Fiegenomics." Simply put, these are economic and other policy changes to ensure jobs for all who want to work, health care for Americans and financial reform.
But he's not simply a wonky attorney and economist. He has been a farmer, worked for an ethanol fuel company and was an apprentice electrician. He comes from a farm family of 11 children and worked his way through college.
Fiegen's early life experience - including his own parents' problems during the farm crisis - piqued his interest in bankruptcy law. And he talks with compassion about the difficulties average Iowans face, such as the pain endured during the floods of 2008. He said he has taken everything from chickens to sweet corn as payment for his legal work.
He can get riled up about an issue, but properly channeled that passion is an asset in politics. He generally does his homework on issues and is soft-spoken, good qualities for working across the aisle in Washington.
We have reservations about all three candidates, but fewer about Fiegen. He is relatively unknown and therefore a gamble. But we expect candidates to speak knowledgeably about the nation's issues, and he does.