Senator Charles Grassley has introduced a new issue into this year’s campaign. In a campaign ad, Grassley talks about how he mows his own yard. So, Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson has questioned other candidates about their own lawns. She first put the question to Art Small, the democrat who’s running against Grassley this year. Do you mow your yard in Iowa City? “The yard is filled with hostas and I don’t have to mow the thing and that’s a great relief to me,” Small said. Small calls Grassley’s lawn-mowing declaration “truly peculiar.” “If that’s what he likes to do, God bless him,” Small said. “It keeps him out of trouble.” Small suggests Grassley might have something else to talk about in his ads. “I would think he would…try to address the issues: the horrendous budget, the trade deficit, the situation in Iraq, health care,” Small said. “There are issues piling up and he’s out there mowing his own lawn, just as blissful as can be.” A quick check of the state’s congressional candidates finds a majority say they mow their own lawns. Congressman King himself called to confirm it. “Yes I do, and I have for two years now. Being an absentee resident, at least a third of my time I’m gone, and it gets a little difficult and I try to pawn that off on the boys, but it gets tall and I’ve cut it about every time.” King’s democrat opponent, Joyce Schulte, hires somebody to mow her lawn in Creston. A spokesman for Congressman Jim Leach says Leach’s place in Iowa City covers 40 acres, and while some of that is timber, the yard is pretty large and Leach hires someone to mow it. Leach’s democratic opponent is Dave Franker of North Liberty. “Not only do I mow my own yard, but I don’t put any fertilizer or pesticides down because I don’t want that to run off into a nearby pond, and so I’ve got a great stand of some native Iowa weeds in my yard,” Franker says. “And then I hop in my 1989 car, which I think is a couple of years older than Senator Grassley’s, and go visit second district Iowans on the campaign trail.” You may have heard another Grassley ad in which he talks about the ancient car he drives around the state on his quest to visit every one of Iowa’s 99 counties each year. Congressman Leonard Boswell recently moved into a condo in Des Moines, and he doesn’t have a lawn to mow. Boswell’s republican challenger, Stan Thompson, has a lawn. “I do mow my own lawn, but with four boys, certainly the three oldest have helped out.” Thompson said. An aide to Congressman Jim Nussle says Nussle mows his own lawn in Manchester, when he has the time. Nussle’s democrat challenger, Bill Gluba, wasn’t too happy with the question. “Quite frankly with all the major issues facing the country — the crisis in the health care industry; thousands of jobs being exported, outsourced overseas; a war in Iraq with young men and women dying — such frivolous questions and issues are ridiculous and it’s a shame that…reporters nonetheless are even bringing up such nonsense.” Congressman Tom Latham’s staff says he has a rider to clip his two-acre lawn in Alexander — when he’s home. Calls for comment from Latham challenger Paul Johnson were not returned, so we don’t know whether he mows his own yard in Decorah.
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