Our leaders in the next year, both state and national, will need to understand loss, human and financial, and summon the resiliency in themselves and us for a collective recovery from the horror show of the coronavirus.
The facts are staggering: 500 Iowans dead from the virus as of Thursday. An outbreak at the Tyson plant in Storm Lake where 555 employees tested positive.
The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims in Iowa was 180,679 as of this writing.
Iowa Democrats in early voting now, and on primary day Tuesday, will select a nominee to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a formidable Iowa political figure who nearly ascended to the vice presidency with President Donald Trump during her first term.
With all that is on the line, Iowans deserve a spirited campaign for U.S. Senate, one in which the Democrat can challenge the politically talented Ernst on the issues and connect culturally with Iowans in rural and urban areas.
We think that Democratic candidate is Theresa Greenfield and endorse her in the primary. As a newspaper that endorses Democrats, Republicans and independents, we will take a clear-eyed, open-minded — and intense — interest in the campaign to determine who is best suited in the November general election to represent all of Iowa in Washington, D.C.
At just age 24, with a small child and a baby on the way, Greenfield lost her husband. A union electrician, he was killed on the job. It’s an unimaginable crisis from which many people would not recover emotionally or financially. Theresa Greenfield did.
“I’ll never forget when my family had to stop farming and sell our crop-dusting business during the farm crisis of the 1980s, or how Social Security survivor benefits kept me out of poverty as a young widow with two kids,” Greenfield said.
This newspaper has covered thousands of elected officials’ town halls. In them, senators and members of Congress are approached by people in pain — desperate farmers needing relief from trade wars and the caprice of weather; veterans seeking to access health care they’ve earned (Greenfield’s son Dane serves in the U.S. Army right now); senior citizens looking to navigate Medicare and Social Security; parents of children with disabilities; and some Iowans with problems so awful they just cry, not knowing how to even identify what’s wrong in their lives or how to fix it.
Responding to these Iowans is the fundamental work of a senator. Greenfield brings a deep well of empathy, gained through her own pain, to the task. She will not shuffle off your grief to the nearest staffer.
Then there is the question of electability. Greenfield has constructed a juggernaut, far outpacing her primary opponents with a war chest and long endorsement list, populated with a impressive roster of organizations representing working people, which any Democrat will need to be competitive. This matters. It means she’s an effective candidate who can build the networks needed to fight. The rest of the primary field, good people all, have fallen short on this measure.
Greenfield’s policies are in the progressive middle, the place where many Iowans find themselves, or could gravitate in the right cycle. She’s not going to hand the election to Ernst with a Bruce Braley moment or stake out unpractical, ideologically adventurous positions that doom others in her party.
Greenfield, whose roots are in the Minnesota farm country of her youth just miles north of the Iowa border, wants voters to know she understands the distinctions between small towns, that life is different in Carroll than in Creston, and residing and working in Algona is not the same as being in Cherokee.
“One of the things I’ve learned growing up in a small town is if you’ve been to one small town, you’ve been to one small town,” Greenfield said in a recent campaign stop in Carroll.
(Case in point: She uses a self-made restaurant guide of all counties to hit diners and homespun restaurants.)
We believe Greenfield understands rural Iowa, as a farm kid, and Des Moines, our growing state capital, where she developed an estimable career in business.
Iowans should demand a competitive race in November.
The Greenfield-Ernst match-up is such a contest.
Both candidates have a fighting chance, and Iowans will get a clear and, we pray, informed choice.