Bob Krause isn’t one for push-ups, but the 72-year-old Burlington Democrat walks 10,000 steps per day and hopes to outpace Republican Chuck Grassley and other challengers in Iowa’s 2022 U.S. Senate race.
“I can out-walk him,” Krause said with a laugh Monday during an interview with The Hawk Eye. “I can walk forever.”
It’s a fitting form of exercise for a man whose background largely consists of public transit policy and development.
Krause served in the House from 1973 to 1979 and was named among the Des Moines Register’s Top 10 Most Effective Iowa Legislators in 1978 for his work crafting the state’s first ethanol exemption as well as regional transit system legislation that was adopted as a national model for the Federal Transit Administration.
He was appointed as regional representative for the U.S. Secretary of Transportation under the Carter Administration and retired from the Iowa Department of Transportation in 2008 after 20 years of government service before working briefly as an advisor on transportation policy in Dubai.
He’s also a 28-year military veteran, having served in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps before being commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Reserve in 1972. He founded the Veterans National Recovery Center, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for resources for military veterans and their families by documenting and sharing their experiences, in 2014.
Both widows, he and his wife, Vicky Mathiessen, an indigenous New Zealander, met on a Christian dating site and married in 2007.
“We just kept talking and talking and talking, and then she came over here on a blind date and, well, I guess I just decided I liked her a lot, so I asked her to marry me on about the third or fourth day over here,” Krause said.
They settled in Burlington in 2015.
Why Krause is running for Senator Chuck Grassley’s seat
This is not Krause’s first attempt to unseat the spry 88-year-old Grassley, who is seeking an eighth U.S. Senate term. Krause ran in 2010 but lost the Democratic primary to Roxanne Conlin, who later lost to Grassley.
Krause’s current bid was spurred by concerns over the preservation of democracy following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and an ensuing cascade of restrictive voting laws passed in 19 states that Krause has referred to as a “slow-motion legal coup.”
“That was kind of the shifting point, for me, where I knew that if I had a cause in life, it was to stop what is going on in the end of our democracy,” Krause said.
Krause spoke in favor of ensuring voters’ rights by passing the “strongest versions possible” of the Voting Rights Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act. The two have been combined to form the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.
“To stop voter suppression, we need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act also, which basically seeks to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its original status before the Supreme Court gutted major portions of that,” Krause said.
At 735 pages, the combined bill seeks to eliminate gerrymandering, expand ballot access, automatically register legal voters to vote during interactions at the DOT and create mandatory minimum standards for early in-person voting and make absentee voting available to all voters.
It also would restore the formula Congress used to determine which states and jurisdictions had a history of discrimination. According to a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, such states and jurisdictions had to enact Department of Justice- or federal district court-approved election law changes, including new political boundaries.
That formula was gutted in a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.
Krause would support the House’s Jan. 6 committee in its investigation of the Capitol insurrection
Krause criticized Grassley’s vote against a bill creating a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate what happened leading up to and during the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol. Following that vote, Grassley said he didn’t think it was appropriate to investigate the Washington, D.C., insurrection without investigating other protests that had taken place throughout the country.
“What message does Congress send to the American people when we have a commission for riots in Washington but ignore the ones across the rest of the country?” Grassley said in a statement issued after the May vote.
Krause said that, if elected, he would advocate for supporting the House’s Jan. 6 committee in its investigation of the insurrection and for prosecuting those involved to the fullest, as well as barring them from holding public office.
“We need to complete the investigation — the J6 investigation — regardless of who wins or loses and we need to have it cover the Senate, too,” Krause said. “We don’t have anything in the Senate simply because (other Senate Republicans) and Grassley voted not to do anything. Was it because there were so many congressionals who knew about it?”
Why Krause is in favor orterm limits for elected officials and appointees
Krause also advocates for packing the Supreme Court with enough liberals, conservatives and centrists to make it more representative of the U.S. population its rulings impact, as well as adopting term limits for elected officials and appointees.
Grassley has also supported term limits for members of Congress, but term limit proposals have not garnered enough support to begin the process of amending the Constitution.
During a call with Iowa reporters this past week, according to a report by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Grassley said he is seeking an eighth term because not doing so would “be diluting the influence of your state if you decide to quit after two (terms) when other people don’t have that,” he said. “I’m looking to the future, working for Iowans, and no one can help Iowans in the United States Senate more than me, based on seniority.”
Krause believes allowing politicians to stay in office for too long gives them too much power.
“When an elected official or even an appointed official is in office for too long, they tend to accumulate power around them, and that’s what’s happened with Chuck Grassley,” Krause said, criticizing Grassley’s refusal to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland’s 2016 nomination to join the Supreme Court.
Garland had been nominated by President Barrack Obama in March 2016 following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but it was an election year and Republicans who controlled the Senate, including Grassley, refused to consider the nomination.
Scalia’s vacancy was taken over by President Donald Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, in April 2017. In June 2018, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, and Brett Kavanaugh, another Trump nominee, was confirmed in October 2018. The vacancy left by the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020 was filled by another Trump nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.
“Over a period of 40 years of heavy influence, (Grassley) created a Supreme Court not representative of the United States, but representative of the federalist society, which is basically a creature of the Koch brothers’ funding, and that is wrong to have an entire nation represented by one slight faction,” Krause said.
The Koch brothers control the largest privately owned company in the U.S., Koch Industries, and are known for their support of Republican political candidates.
Does Krause consider himself a moderate?
Krause also wants to regulate money in politics from individuals and corporations, as well as eliminate the filibuster, which requires 60 of the 100 senators to vote to stop debate before legislation can be voted upon and has prevented a vote on the voting rights bill. Grassley has defended the filibuster and recently expressed concern over the the Democrat-backed voting bill.
“This might seem like a subject that’s very much ‘inside the beltway,’ but Democrat leaders’ first order of business, after destroying this Senate tradition, is going to be the federal takeover of the elections,” Grassley told Radio Iowa this past week.
Asked whether he considers himself to be a moderate, Krause paused for a moment to consider and said it depends on the subject.
“I won’t work with people who are seditionists — people who want to overthrow our democracy. I think those people, constitutionally, they should be removed from office,” Krause said, again referring to the Capitol insurrection. “The people who were involved, actively, in this Jan. 6 insurrection and any subsequent seditionist actions should be permanently removed from office, and that is not a moderate statement.”
His stance on carbon capture sequestration pipelines, however, is more centrist. He acknowledged that many landowners are opposed to the proposals, but said the benefits of the infrastructure cannot be ignored.
“You have to balance it,” he said. “You can’t say it’s all bad or it’s all good.”
He does, however, believe that such pipelines should be subject to stringent federal oversight to ensure that the least amount of damage is done to properties, that any damage is repaired and paid for, that farmers are reimbursed for any crop losses and that the carbon is safely stored in the ground and will stay there.
Krause’s campaign takes a look at the revitalization of rural America
While much of his campaign is focused on Jan. 6 and upholding democracy, Krause also has initiatives targeting climate change, environmental and water degradation, the revitalization of rural America and the right to seek the American dream in mind, too.
“Obviously, we have to act (on climate change),” Krause said. “Some of the massive things that were already done — we have more sustainable energy than most other states in the nation with our wind power.”
Iowa falls just behind Texas in terms of installed wind capacity.
Krause is a proponent of green energy and is in the process of installing solar panels at the three-unit Burlington duplex he and his wife own and reside in. The cash flow for the panels, he said, would not have been possible without state and federal grants.
“To me, that really proves that there is an important governmental role in getting houses solarized and on to alternate energy,” Krause said.
Krause also noted the importance of monitoring water degradation, pointing specifically to the Jordan Aquifer, which much of the state relies on for its water supply. Krause believes extensive monitoring of the aquifer’s water tables is crucial.
“It’s one of those areas that we definitely need to have records,” Krause said. “If you don’t have records, you don’t know what you have.”
He also spoke in favor of more aggressive soil conservation programs that would allow farmers to retain fertilizer on their land through cover crop usage and incentives.
“If you create it with the proper incentives, the farmers will gain, and that’s what we need to do,” Krause said. “If Trump can (give farmers federal aid) because he got in a fight with China, we certainly ought to be able to do something like that to get the farmers back in favor of something like that, and we can bring them along without making them the people who suffer for clean water.”
Why Krause opposes tax cuts through Congress
Krause said he is not in favor of tax cuts through Congress as they tend to favor “the upper crust,” and thus contribute further to making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
“And a classic example is the Trump tax cuts, which overwhelmingly went to the top 10% and then they sparked a stock market boom, not because the economy got better, but because the structure of the tax bill encouraged stock buybacks by corporations, so they’d buy their own stock off the market,” Krause said. “And so that narrowed the financial space of the shares and then those shares went up in value because each share represented a greater portion of the of the value of the company.”
Instead, he spoke in favor of “hand-ups” that will help Americans to take steps that will allow them to build upon their wealth or even just improve their quality of life.
“We need to look at the entry portals to buy a house,” he said. “Buying a house creates equity to do other things. If you’re renting, you don’t have the equity, the landlord or the property owner has the equity, so they can get the loans, but you can’t because you’re a renter and you don’t have any equity, and I think that’s a big chunk of the American Dream.”
Krause said he likely would have been unable to afford his first home until he was in his 40s had it not been for the VA loan program.
He also spoke in support of restoring unions, raising the minimum wage and working to create accessibility to affordable child care, which in turn would help to improve the nationwide workforce shortage.
Also running against Grassley are Democrats Mike Franken, a U.S. Navy veteran who lives in Sioux City, and Glenn Hurst, a Minden physician, as well as Jim Carlin, a Republican attorney from Sioux City.