This year, 83-year-old Chuck Grassley is asking Iowa voters to re-elect him to a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. Earlier this year, 72-year-old Patty Judge came out of political retirement and is Grassley’s Democratic challenger.
Grassley announced this bid for reelection three years ago on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program: “I’m a firm believer if you do a good job (at) what you’re doing and people recognize it, the future takes care of itself.”
That was September 20, 2013, immediately after Democratic Senator Tom Harkin announced he would not seek reelection in 2014. Grassley and Harkin had the most seniority of any state’s delegation in the U.S. Senate at the time. Grassley said since Harkin was leaving, it was important that Iowa not lose that leverage.
Judge accuses Grassley of using his seniority to deliberately block President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, as well as block progress on issues like immigration reform.
“When the seniority is used for the benefit of your political party instead of the benefit of working in families in Iowa, that seniority really is not of great value,” Judge said during a recent debate on KCAU TV.
Grassley has held elected office in Iowa since 1959. He was a member of the Iowa House for 14 years and served six years in the U.S. House of Representative before his election to the United States Senate in 1980. Grassley said that KCAU debate that the secret to his success is not “over-promising” and making it easy to remember what he has promised by always telling the truth.
“Washington is an island surrounded by reality. Get out of there. I come home every weekend,” Grassley said. “For 36 years in a row, I’ve gone to every meeting to have at least one meeting in every county.”
Judge responded: “It’s strange that he talks about the need to get out of Washington and yet he has gone back year after year. (He) has become a fixture in Washington, openly in one of his commercials talks about being a ‘big deal’ in Washington these days.”
Judge is a native of Albia. She served in the Iowa Senate before winning two terms as Iowa’s secretary of agriculture. She served one term as lieutenant governor, during Governor Chet Culver’s administration.
There’s been limited independent polling done in this race. This weekend’s Des Moines Register’s “Iowa Poll” found Grassley holding a sizable 23-point lead in this year’s race.