At age 88, most Iowans would be sitting in a rocker on their front porch listening to the corn grow and watching their great-grandchildren at play.
But Senator Chuck Grassley has a different idea. The seven-term senator has been listening to the importuning from national Republicans to run for what would most assuredly be a slam-dunk eighth term and has decided to grant them their wish.
There are no major league professional sports teams in Iowa. There are some good college football programs at Iowa State in Ames and in Iowa City, where the state university plays. But the closest Iowans get to the major leagues is their iconic Senator Chuck Grassley.
First elected to Congress in 1975, he won a Senate seat in the GOP Reagan landslide of 1980 and hasn’t looked back.
The decision by Grassley, who has served in the U.S. Congress since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, boosts Republican prospects for holding the seat next year, when control of the chamber will be at stake. Recent polling has shown Grassley with a sizable lead over Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer.
Perhaps Grassley’s most consequential impact on the country has been his recent tenure as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position that gave him significant influence in pushing through the nominations of dozens of judges during the Trump presidency as well as three Supreme Court justices, including the divisive nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Leave it to the Democrats to put up a 32-year-old failed politician to take on the state’s political icon.
Finkenauer, a former Democratic congresswoman, hopes voters share her belief that Grassley is more concerned with remaining in power than representing the needs of everyday Iowans.
“My parents could not give me a trust fund or debt-free college, but they taught me about seeing work to be done and doing it,” the 32-year-old said in July when she launched her Senate campaign.
“It’s politicians like Senator Grassley and Mitch McConnell who should know better but are so obsessed with power that they oppose anything that moves us forward,” Finkenauer added. “Since the Capitol was attacked, they’ve turned their backs on democracy — and on us.”
Finkenauer served one term in the House and then was ousted by a Republican woman, Ashley Hinson. Trying to bring the radical agenda to Iowa was doomed to failure.
Grassley’s decision doesn’t seal a Senate takeover by Republicans, but it takes a very large piece off the board. There are still four GOP senators who are mulling their future. Ohio, Alabama, and Missouri are fairly safe GOP seats no matter if the incumbent runs or not, but Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson is facing a very difficult re-election campaign and is holding off on an announcement until later this fall. There are also two difficult races in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where the Republican senator is retiring. The Republicans will be hard-pressed to keep both those seats.
So taking Iowa off the board will allow the national party to devote more resources in states that will be competitive.