The dean of Iowa Republicans in 73-year-old U.S. Senator Charles Grassley who in 1958 was first elected to a seat the Iowa House. Now, his 23-year-old grandson is following in his footsteps.
Patrick Grassley was one of the rare Republican victories this past election, winning a seat in the Iowa House representing the same area his grandfather did. The younger Grassley admits his famous name played a big role in his victory, but he also credits the political philosophy to which he and his grandfather ascribe. “Trying to keep government as small as possible, keeping the taxes low,” Patrick Grassley explains. “…That’s something that I want to go down there and do is to make sure that we keep government as small as possible and keep the money in the hands of the people because they know better how to spend it than the government does.”
Pat Grassley and his wife farm near New Hartford, and just like his grandfather, he got involved in campus politics at the University of Northern Iowa. “I ran for student body president my first semester at UNI — that would be two years ago already — and I got third place,” Pat Grassley says. “A little-known fact is my grandpa ran for student body president when he was the exact same age as me and he finished in third place. Then, he went and ran for the state legislature like I did, about the same time frame. He lost his first primary and then ran again two years late and won and hasn’t lost since.”
“Grandpa” Grassley was elected to congress in 1974, and then won his seat in the United States Senate in 1980 where he has served ever since.
Patrick Grassley beat 22-year-old Alek Wipperman of Waverly. Wipperman says without planning it, he and Grassley took the high road and wound up conducting a “squeaky clean” race. “That’s one thing I’m really proud of,” Wipperman says. “Pat and I never sat down and said ‘Let’s not do any negative campaigning.’ It just sort of happened naturally.”
When the younger Grassley is sworn in as a state legislator, he will be the second-youngest member of the Iowa House.