Iowa Democrats still don’t have a candidate to run for U.S. Senate against Chuck Grassley next fall. Iowa Democratic Party chairman Gordon Fischer says the five-Million-dollar re-election fund Grassley’s already collected is enough to intimidate any potential candidate. The money is a factor, he says. Fischer says anybody willing to challenge Grassley in his bid for a fifth term would benefit, even if they lost the senate race. He says it’s been done many times, and gives the example of Paul Shomshor’s congressional race against Steve King, which Shomshor lost, but then he came back to win a special election to state representative this August for District 100 because of his name recognition. Fischer says Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson and Secretary of State Chet Culver both are interested in a U.S. Senate bid.He says both are very popular among Iowa Democrats and could raise enough money to compete with Grassley, but even as others wait to see what Pederson and Culver will do, there are others who’d also make good candidates. Fisher says he learned his lesson during Tom Vilsack’s first gubernatorial campaign. Down by 20 points, Vilsack came back in the last couple weeks to beat Jim Ross Lightfoot, and Fischer says that proves you never know what can happen in politics. Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver says money’s not the most important thing in an election — the mood of the voters is. Culver predicts the 2004 election cycle will be a great year for the Iowa and the national Democratic parties. If he decides to challenge Grassley, Culver will be taking on the man who ousted his father, John Culver, in 1980, but Culver says that doesn’t factor into his decision. Culver says the money isn’t the most important thing, it’s whether voters think the incumbent’s getting the job done. Culver’s also been mentioned as a candidate for governor in 2006, and Fischer, the democratic party leader, says even if Culver challenges Grassley for the senate and loses, Culver could still win the governorship. Fischer says the same is true for Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson. Pederson declined to be interviewed for this story.
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