Chuck Grassley’s push-up challenge sounds like it's from 'Seinfeld.' But his longevity is no joke.

If Grassley goes for re-election, Republicans and many Democrats will admit that the seat is essentially safe. If it doesn’t, the GOP’s path to a majority will be much more difficult.

The oldest GOP senator says he’ll think about it until autumn. He’s a Conservative who can work with Democrats on a handful of issues like criminal justice reform and drug prices while playing brutal partisan games to fill the Bundesbank with Conservatives. He has held public office since 1959 and has served in the Senate since 1981, including two years as the president’s successor.

Any Republican could retire and be proud of that type of career. But Grassley may not be ready to call it finished.

“Look, I don’t see anything stopping me from serving another six years if I choose to,” he says during a swing around northeast Iowa as part of his annual 99 county tour. “I only work from day to day. God will take care of tomorrow. “

And after five GOP eliminations this cycle, Grassley is under pressure to keep his party from defending another open seat as it seeks to recapture the majority.

“He is very much encouraged,” said John Thune, Senate Minority Whip. “It’s the best way to get the seat in Republican hands and take it off the map.”

Aside from crude electoral politics, there is a more sensitive issue. He would be 95 at the end of an eighth term. He’s one of three 87-year-olds in the Senate and the second oldest overall: Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Won re-election in 2018, while Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) Will retire next year.

Senators in both parties say Grassley is sharp as a ginsu knife and his health appears impeccable. He turns down questions about his age or fitness, either with a push-up challenge – which makes doubters look silly – or with a defense of his record. No whispered questions about sharpness follow him, as Feinstein or the late Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) Have.

Even so, there is some dismay in Iowa as to whether it is time to pass the torch.

“The general feeling from the public, perhaps on both sides, is that he should retire. That age will be a factor going forward, ”said Ardie Kuhse, a longtime home supporter who heads Waukon Economic Development Corporation. But She disagrees: “As long as he can and wants to, I think he is able to. That’s how I feel.”

As he contemplates re-election, Grassley adheres to his strict schedule and one lane is open. He is excited about the checkered legacy of former President Donald Trump, with whom he has spoken twice since Trump left office.

When asked if he finds Trump personally responsible for the Capitol uprising, he refers to a statement he released on Jan. 6. He said that Trump’s presidency started out difficult for him, “but given his eventual success, I think I would, I have to say, I misjudged. “

Even so, Trump’s popularity complicated Iowa Grassley’s vaunted independent series. He wrote a bill to protect Special Envoy Robert Mueller from the then President, but also used harsh tactics as chairman of the Judiciary Committee to endorse Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and stiff-arm Democrats on the nomination of judicial officers .

Aside from his unconventional moves, Grassley is a political professional who crosses the line between established Republicans and hardliners from the Trump era. He says there were some irregularities in the 2020 election, but Biden is the legitimate president. And while he never seriously considered questioning Biden’s victory, he says his colleagues had every right to do so.

While he wants Iowa’s famous 2024 presidential campaign to be wide open, he doesn’t say his party should deviate from Trump: “If he runs in 2024, nothing can be done about it.”

To many, Grassley sounds like he’s a waiting candidate.

“He didn’t announce it, but I think he’ll run,” advised Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Grassley replied, “I’m telling Rick Scott the same thing I told you: I’ll make up my mind in September, October and November.”

The sunny spring day he settled on a Bambino burger was typical of Grassley, whose famous 27-year-old streak was 8,927 votes derailed only from the coronavirus. Even after contracting the virus, he ran in typical Grassley fashion most mornings.

He spends his breaks hauling around the state with a handful of aides in tow, taking the 99 County Tour he invented. He answers dozens of questions every day on topics ranging from inflation to the Supreme Court and is adept at handling his interlocation. He only occasionally relies on helpers for help, like his planner and advisor Jennifer Heins, who is almost always by his side.

In this sense, Grassley himself seems to be inadvertently charming his political opponents, despite being the Senate chief Kurmudgeon. As he approached a voter in the restaurant, he assured her, “It is so that I can hear you.” It’s not supposed to intimidate you. “Speaking to a high school class in the nearby town of Elkader, he was excited about rising tuition fees:” Am I screaming? I’m sorry. “

“I don’t consider myself a charming person,” he said afterwards. “You heard me scream at these kids.”

It’s all part of the Iowa farmer’s authenticity that has satisfied his state for decades. Grassley occasionally misses a name or number and calls his colleague Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) “Sen. LeBron ”at one point. But many senators speak wrongly and he is one of the few willing to spend hours asking himself untimely questions.

“He knows more about Iowa than anyone in Iowa,” said GOP Senator Joni Ernst.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Who has been in conflict with Grassley for years, considered him “exceptional”. Physically and mentally. I work with him every day. That’s all I can tell you “

Grassley always looks like this: rimless glasses, elephant ties and sometimes his signature sweater vests. It fires off typos riddled with tweets that take on a life of their own from the famous Beltway ”assume deer are dead“To” When you’ve lost your pet pidgin / it’s dead in the front yard. “

Sometimes he says to the staff, “I feel like a tweet is coming.”

“These cable companies are getting too big as goggles to ignore their customers. FNC picked up their ticker. For those of us who are tired of hearing the same story ten times, we can mute and read, ”he ranted this month.

Grassley doesn’t read the responses, “90 percent of them hate me. It’s too depressing.” Still, he never deletes a tweet, regardless of spelling errors or reading comprehension problems. When asked about the recent viral tweet on the Fox News Channel’s news ticker, Grassley replied, “I’m disgusted!” He’s now watching CNN but hopes Fox will notice his request.

It may be a long road, but that’s how the indefatigable Iowan works. After listening to an inaugural lecture on Limiting Paper Waste on Medicare Forms, Grassley said he had never thought of it but would “take it back as a Grassley proposal.”

And when disgruntled ranchers in Monticello laughed at his suggestion to punish badly wronged executives in the meat packaging instead of jailing them, Grassley picked up the ridicule and then said he could tighten his own legislation.

During a day of 5 stops and about 300 miles, he was asked only once about his re-election. But Grassley’s future is certainly on Iowan’s mind.

Thomas Hansen, chairman of Winneshiek County’s GOP who made an unsuccessful house offer last year, said Grassley is “very highly respected … But to be honest with what I’ve heard, it’s time to put new blood into his Seat. “

There are rumors that Grassley plans to raise his grandson, House Speaker Pat Grassley, to the Senate. But that is not happening, according to the Senator and his allies.

“I know for a fact that is not true,” said Rep. Lee Hein, a Republican close to Pat Grassley. He said Pat Grassley was not interested in becoming a Senator and encouraged Chuck to run again.

By the time the incumbent makes his decision, the state’s Democrats are frozen – and not particularly talkative. Auditor Rob Sand has expressed interest in the Senate race but withdrew from an interview in Des Moines the day before. Representative Cindy Axne, another potential candidate for the Democratic Senate, declined an interview request.

J. D. Scholten, who nearly defeated former Steve King (R-Iowa) MP in 2018, is also considering running a Senate run. He said the Iowa Democrats had work to do regardless of Grassley’s future.

“After looking at people in DC for the last couple of cycles, I don’t think they fully understand what’s going on in Iowa,” Scholten said. “If you’re a Democrat in this state, you really have to create a movement.”

It was “not impossible” for Democrats to break through, argued Scholten. After all, they captured three house seats in 2018, and Scholten himself almost captured the fourth.

A poll in the Des Moines Register in March shown Many Iowans don’t want Grassley to run again. Still, there could be some sort of Grassley exception to the state elections. Democrats tried to beat him in 2016 when he blocked a Supreme Court appointment. Even against a candidate named Judge, Grassley won with 24 points.

Some believe there is little reason to believe that 2022 will be any different.

“God I hate to give to you A comment on the file, “sighed Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Who led the 2016 Democratic campaign.” It makes the difference whether it’s a competitive race or Chuck Grassley just wins again. “

Leave a Comment