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Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley will be making a decision on whether or not to run for an eighth term later this summer, and almost everyone from both parties is hoping he makes up his mind sooner.
Republicans in Iowa would dearly love Grassley to run again, seeing his candidacy as virtually assuring a GOP hold on the seat in Iowa. If he doesn’t run, there are half a dozen Republicans who want to get a head start on fundraising for what promises to be a very competitive race.
Democrats want Grassley to make up his mind sooner rather than later so they can coalesce around a challenger. The favorite, at the moment, among establishment Democrats is former Rep. Abby Finkenauer. But there are several more radical candidates waiting in the wings who are itching for a shot.
Holding on to the seat in Iowa is a Republican priority. With five GOP incumbents already retiring, Republican chances for a Senate takeover are diminishing.
“In Iowa, there’s not going to be a competitive race if Grassley seeks reelection,” one Republican consultant who has worked extensively on Senate races told The Hill. “To that extent, the Republican field is frozen until Grassley decides whether or not to run for reelection, in which case we’re going to be rushing to figure things out.”
The signs point to Grassley running again, but no one is betting on it.
Republicans are mostly confident that Grassley will seek an eighth term in the Senate. In an interview on the conservative “Ruthless” podcast this week, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), said that he’s “still bugging” Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to announce their reelection bids.
“If you announce you’re running, that would be pretty helpful to me,” Scott said. He added that he recently held a fundraiser alongside Grassley in Naples, Fla.
“If he flies all the way from Iowa down to Naples, Fla., I think he’s gonna run,” Scott added.
Grassley raised $625,000 in the second quarter of the year, leaving him with more than $2.5 million on hand for a reelection bid. That doesn’t sound like someone ready to quit.
And Grassley’s competitive juices may be flowing. His campaign released a statement skewering Finkenauer as being “too radical.”
Grassley’s campaign was quick to respond on Thursday to Finkenauer’s announcement, casting her as a failed candidate and noting Grassley’s substantial cash advantage over her: “$2,549,206 to just $29,814.”
“Ex-Rep. Finkenauer is too radical for Iowa, which is why Iowans fired her just last year, giving her the distinction as the first member of Congress from Iowa to lose reelection after just one term in more than fifty years,” Jennifer Heins, an adviser to Grassley’s campaign, said in a statement.
If for whatever reason Grassley decides to retire, there are a slew of Republicans ready to step in, including the speaker of the Iowa House, his grandson Pat Grassley.
Donald Trump has made Iowa Republican country, winning two presidential elections in the state and carrying several GOP House members to victory. Democrats are dispirited and in disarray as a result of Trump turning Iowa from purple to red.
In what is shaping up to be a Republican year in 2022, Iowa looks to continue Trump’s winning streak.