CEDAR FALLS — A Cedar Falls High School and University of Northern Iowa graduate is running for the U.S. Senate in Virginia.
Ivan Raiklin, a 1994 CFHS graduate with degrees from UNI, is running for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Raiklin, 42, the son of late UNI economics professor Ernest Raiklin and a product of the UNI ROTC program, spent 20 years in the U.S. Army after graduating from UNI, including time in the Special Forces — the Green Berets. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and served other tours of duty in the Middle East. He was a military attache serving in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and in the Pentagon during the Ukraine crisis of 2014.
Last year, he helped train the Jordanian Special Operations Command countering ISIS and deployed to Texas to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
He is on independent ready reserve and is an adviser and investor with small-business startups with tech companies.
“The reason I’m running is that we’ve had such a negative political atmosphere the past couple of years, I want to inject a ‘positive disruption’ in the political conversation,” he said. “Being a veteran of 20 years, I’m pretty much a political agnostic.” He’s says he’s been trained to focus on overall good of the military unit he’s serving and applies those same standards to his community and his country.
Raiklin is multi-lingual and the American-born son of Russian immigrants. His family came to America from the former Soviet Union under as a result of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, which forced the USSR to ease emigration restrictions on Soviet Jews seeking to flee religious persecution.
Ivan Raiklin said his father, who had been living in upstate New York following retirement from UNI, passed away Jan. 2 after a struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He said the values he learned growing up in Iowa, such as a “strong work ethic,” helped shape his candidacy.
“The difference between Democrats and Republicans in Iowa is not that significant,” he said. “People are neighborly” and committed to each other and the community. “That friendliness really shaped me, and moderation, if you will,” he said.
He’s one of multiple candidates seeking the GOP Senate nomination. He likes his chances, given Virginia’s large number of veterans, millennials and people currently serving in the military or the federal government. Holding degrees in Russian and Spanish, as well as a law degree, he says he’s challenged incumbent Sen. Kaine to a debate in Spanish.
The primary is June 12.