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Muhlbauer bows out of Senate race after family tragedy

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Former Democratic Crawford County Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer, a Manilla cattleman and farmer,Tuesday ended his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley.

MANILLA: Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Dave Muhlbauer, the son and grandson of state legislators, Tuesday morning ended his campaign months after his 4-year-old nephew Jed Riesselman died in an accident.

“For those of you who are not aware, my nephew died in an accident earlier this year,” Muhlbauer said. “As I’m sure you can all imagine, this has had a devastating effect on our family. It’s something you can never prepare yourself for and will leave a hole that will never be filled.”

The farm accident occurred Aug. 12.

A former Crawford County Supervisor, Muhlbauer, a Manilla farmer and cattleman with deep family roots in rural Iowa politics, in May announced his bid for Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley’s seat.

Muhlbauer, who describes himself as an “old-school farming-labor Democrat,” was the first prominent Democrat to enter the November 2022 U.S. Senate race. Although Muhlbauer was not favored in the primary, many Democrats cheered his entry as they thought he could elevate rural issues in the party and improve Democratic outreach into Iowa’s smaller towns.

Former Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque, retired Adm. Mike Franken of Sioux City and Minden physician Glenn Hurst have since announced for the Democratic nomination and an opportunity to challenge Grassley.

“After a period of reflection with my family and close friends, I have decided that I will not be able to continue my campaign for the United States Senate,” Muhlbauer said. “I hope you’ll all understand that my family and I continue to need time together to grieve.”

Muhlbauer has not endorsed any of the remaining candidates at this point.

“I’m going to just hold off for now, just see how it goes down the road,” he said.

Muhlbauer works with his late nephew’s parents, Robert and Megan (Muhlbauer) Riesselman, and says his focus is on family now, not politics, although in an interview Muhlbauer, 38, did not rule out making a run at a later date.

“Iowans are strong, we come together during times of tragedy and loss,” Muhlbauer said. “And as they always do, our community came together to help us with the work needed to bring in the harvest this year. Without the love and support of our neighbors I don’t know where we would be. I first want to thank everyone who has reached out to our family during this time of tragedy and mourning. Your support has meant more than you will ever know.

“I deeply appreciate the incredible people I was able to meet over the months I traveled across Iowa. I thank you for your love and prayers and only ask that you hold those you love extra tight as we move into the holiday season and beyond. Our family will always have so much gratitude for the outpouring of love and understanding from all of you.”

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