Senator Chuck Grassley suggests he doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of long-time senators like Strom Thurmond, who exited the senate when he was 100 years old.
“I’ve seen too many people like Strom Thurmond or like Robert Byrd when they were 90 years old or 100 years old — took two or three people to try to get ’em around the senate,” Grassley says. “One of ’em even had a nurse with him all the time and Chuck Grassley’s not going to try to represent the people of Iowa in that state of health.”
West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd served nearly 57 years in congress and died in office at the age of 92. Grassley is entering the second year of the six-year term he won in 2010. Grassley was asked during a Friday appearance on Iowa Public Television if he would seek reelection in 2016.
“Immediately after I was reelected in 2004, you asked me if I was going to run for reelection and, you know, I said, ‘Yes, I’m going to run for reelection,” Grassley said. “…I’m 78 years old and I think I have a responsibility to the people to be a little more cautious this time. And, maybe, why don’t you ask me that question about two or three years from now?”
Grassley, who’s a Republican, became a regular jogger at the age of 65 after he became the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Aging. He goes for a run four days a week.
“I’m in very good health now,” Grassley said Friday on IPTV’s “Iowa Press” program.
Grassley won his first election in 1958 — a race for a seat in the Iowa House. Grassley ran for a seat in the U.S. House in 1974 and served there until 1981, when he began his tenure in the U.S. Senate. With 52 consecutive years in elected office, Grassley is the longest-serving Republican office holder in Iowa.
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Tom Harkin, is 72 years old. He’s been in congress since 1975.