While Senator Tom Harkin says he won’t seek reelection in 2014, Iowa’s other U.S. senator says he isn’t ready to think about retiring yet. Senator Chuck Grassley will be turning 80 years old in September but says stepping down when his term is up in 2016 simply isn’t on his radar.
“I don’t have my eyes set on 2016 because right now, we have all of these big fiscal problems, economic problems, all of those are related to are we going to get unemployment down?” Grassley says. “We’ve gotta’ get this economy turned around and that’s going to take up all my thought.”
Harkin’s announcement over the weekend took many people by surprise. Grassley says he won’t be thinking about quitting until maybe a year and a half before his term is up — perhaps in another 18 months from now.
“Right now, I’m doing those things that you’d have to do if you’re running for reelection,” Grassley says, “be very vigorous as a legislator, work very hard for the Republican party, help other candidates, raise money for my own campaign, raise money to help other people campaign, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Harkin is 73 and a Democrat while the 79-year-old Grassley is a Republican. Democrats now hold power in the Senate and Harkin’s departure could be seen as placing pressure on Grassley to try and stay in office to help the GOP gain power, but Grassley says that’s just not the case.
“I haven’t felt any pressure at any time to run, the first time or anytime, for reelection,” Grassley says. “I think if you have a lot of politicians saying, ‘Yeah, I’m getting all kinds of pressure to run for this job or that job,’ I think you’d better, well, I don’t think they’re entirely truthful.”
Prior to heading to Congress, Grassley served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1959 to 1975. Grassley was first elected to the U.S. House in 1975 and has served in the Senate since 1980. By the time Harkin finishes his term in 2014, he’ll have served 40 years in Congress — 10 in the House and 30 in the Senate.