After months of deliberation, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley announced Friday morning that he would stand for re-election in 2022 – a move Republicans believe will give them their best shot at retaining the coveted Senate seat.
Grassley, 88, delivered the long-awaited news in a typically low-key fashion, posting it on Twitter with little additional fanfare.
“It’s 4am in Iowa so I’m running,” he said in the pre-dawn announcement. “I do this 6 days a week. Before we start the day, I want you to know what Barbara and I have decided. I am running for re-election – much more to do, for Iowa. We are asking and will work for your support.”
Grassley kept the political world on their toes for nearly a year, keeping quiet about his intentions as he weighed the choice in private. Grassley previously told the Des Moines Register that it was “one of the little things I pray for” during his early morning solo jogs.
“I sometimes feel like I’m making a decision anyway, there will be regrets one day on the road,” he said.
Grassley will host a series of public events on Friday in Marion, Pleasant Valley, Dyersville and Waterloo, according to a press release. He will also join Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in Des Moines on Saturday during his annual harvest festival fundraiser.
“To serve the Iowans in the United States Senate is a tremendous honor,” Grassley said in a statement. “I’m working harder than ever for the people of Iowa and there is still work to be done. In times of crisis and polarization, Iowa needs strong and effective leadership. My focus is on serving the people of Iowa as a senator and fighting for policies that will make Iowa an even better place to raise a family and grow a business. “
His move is a victory for National Republicans who have made it clear they want Grassley – who has been re-elected several times with double-digit margins – to run for an eighth term. A Des Moines Register / Mediacom Iowa poll released this week showed him leading Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer by 18 percentage points, 55% to 37%, in an early test of the race.
Every seat will count on Election Day 2022 as Republicans seek to break Democrats’ very thin control over the US Senate. The house is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote for the Democrats.
At stake is an aggressive agenda pushed by President Joe Biden’s administration and backed by Democrats in Congress, including massive infrastructure and budget envelopes.
Grassley’s announcement comes after a wave of other incumbent Republican senators announced their retirement, complicating the party’s 2022 map. They include Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard Selby of Alabama.
Grassley is unlikely to face a serious main challenge, although Republican State Senator Jim Carlin has announced a campaign.
Previously:Chuck Grassley weighs an 8th term in the US Senate. How he decides.
Finkeanuer is the best-known Democrat to enter the race after announcing her campaign in July. Two other prominent Democrats – United States Representative Cindy Axne and State Auditor Rob Sand – have excluded Senate nominations. But retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken, who lost his Senate primary in 2020, is considering jumping into the race.
According to the September Iowa Registry poll, 51% of Iowans have a favorable opinion of Grassley, 37% have an unfavorable opinion of him and 12% are unsure.
Among Republicans, 81% rate it favorably, but only 14% of Democrats do.
That’s a “strong” number, said pollster J. Ann Selzer. But it falls short of the 90% favor rating Republicans gave Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in the same poll.
Grassley’s longevity seen as a strength and a weakness
Although Grassley enters the race from a position of strength, he is not without weaknesses.
Historically, Grassley’s approval ratings have been among the highest in the state – even reaching the 80% threshold on occasion. But today, his approval rating is at one of the lowest ever.
According to the Iowa Registry poll, 47% of Iowans approve of the job they do, 40% disapprove and 13% are unsure.
In interviews with poll respondents and attendees at events across the state, the Iowans say they remain committed to Grassley but fear he has been in office for too long.
He was first elected to the Iowa Legislature in 1958 at the age of 23, and has held a continuously elected office since. He was elected for his first term in the US Senate in 1980. He is now 88 years old and would be 95 years old at the end of another term.
Paula Crow, a registered Republican from Centerville who responded to the June Iowa registry poll, said she liked Grassley to stand up “on the left” and think he handled the pandemic well. But she would like to see another Republican take her place.
“So far I agree with his policies as a Republican and I agree with what he does so far,” she said. “But my reasoning for thinking that we should have someone new is this: I think there should be conditions and limits. How long they should be able to serve in the Senate.”
Iowa poll:Chuck Grassley leads Abby Finkenauer in testing possible clash with US Senate
Finkenauer once made his longevity a handicap, tweeting recently that Grassley has been in power since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.
“13 different presidents – 7 Republicans, 6 Democrats. Chuck Grassley has always been a politician. And where has it taken us, Iowa? ” she said.
Others, however, say Grassley’s longevity is a boon to the state, giving Iowa inordinate influence in Congress.
When the Republicans took control of the Senate, Grassley became president pro tempore, placing him third in the presidency. He presided over the battles of the Supreme Court as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and he headed the powerful Senate Finance Committee. If the Republicans regained control, he would likely take over the leadership of the Judicial Commission, where he is currently the most senior Republican.
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Brianne Pfannenstiel is the Register’s chief political reporter. Contact her at [email protected] or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.