The grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley has survived a primary challenge, one of a dozen or so key primary races for the Iowa legislature.
State Representative Pat Grassley of New Hartford and State Representative Annette Sweeney of Alden, both Republicans, were forced to run against one another because of redistricting.
“When you have two incumbents thrown in together, obviously it’s going to be a tough fight regardless of who the legislators are,” Grassley said Tuesday night during an interview with Radio Iowa.
District lines were redrawn last year to reflect population shifts found in the 2010 Census. Pat Grassley finished over 900 votes ahead of Sweeney — winning by a margin of 61 to 39 percent. Grassley suggests negative ads run against him by a group that supported Sweeney were a factor.
“I can’t speak for every voter, whether they backfired or not. All I can say is when I’ve been door knocking since those ads started, I heard more about that,” Grassley told Radio Iowa. “Folks were sick of seeing negative campaigning.”
Grassley has won three terms in the Iowa House and is seeking his fourth this year.
“I’ve watched enough campaigns to know that you can never be overly confident going into a race,” Grassley said. “Always run like you’re behind — I was taught that very early on.”
Grassley’s grandfather has been winning elections since 1958, when he won a seat in the Iowa House. Chuck Grassley started his tenure in congress in 1975.
The Pat Grassley versus Annette Sweeney legislative race was the most expensive primary campaign in the state, with more spending than the primary races for congressional seats.
In other legislative races, a long-time state senator from Muscatine lost to a fellow Republican senator. State Senator Jim Hahn has been in the legislature for 22 years.
He lost to State Senator Shawn Hamerlinck of Dixon — a fellow Republican. Another Republican senator — Pat Ward of West Des Moines — survived a primary challenge from a Waukee pastor.
Jeff Mullen had the backing of conservatives he worked with on the 2010 campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices. Ward had the backing of Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds.
An assistant Republican leader in the Iowa House lost to a political newcomer in Tuesday’s voting. Jake Highfill of Johnston, a college student, accused Republican Representative Erik Helland of Grimes of offering him a job so Highfill would not drop the idea of running in the primary.
Highfill filed an ethics complaint, which a House committee dismissed earlier this year, but Highfill beat Helland in Tuesday’s primary.
Several other Republicans in the Iowa House faced primary challenges from more conservative Republicans. No House or Senate Democrat in the legislature faced a primary in yesterday’s voting.