Senator Chuck Grassley already has two likely Democratic opponents (Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen), but rumors persist that a better-known Iowa Democrat is thinking seriously about this race.
I still don't buy the rumors that Representative Bruce Braley will take on this challenge, even though Braley sharply criticized Grassley in a guest piece for the Huffington Post on Friday. With Grassley's approval ratings still outside the danger zone for an incumbent, I would hate to see Braley give up a safe House seat and a good committee assignment to run in 2010. He is young enough to wait until either Grassley or Harkin retires.
Whether or not Braley intends to run for Senate next year, he could raise his profile and support by promising to work as hard to keep a strong public option in the health care reform bill as Grassley is working to keep one out. (Progressive activists have now raised nearly $400,000 for House Democrats who promise not to vote for any health care bill lacking a strong public option.) A joint statement on behalf of Braley's Populist Caucus would do even more to bolster Braley's reputation as a fighter for a strong health care reform bill.
Other names being floated on various blogs include former first lady Christie Vilsack, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, Attorney General Tom Miller, and Mike Blouin, a former member of Congress who headed the state Department of Economic Development when Tom Vilsack was governor. Blouin narrowly lost the 2006 gubernatorial primary to Chet Culver, so he has recent experience campaigning statewide. On several issues Blouin and I are as far apart as any two Democrats could be, but I thought displacedyankdem made a strong case for him:
Even if he's not in the very highest tier of candidates (Vilsack, Miller, and Braley), he is:
a)several tiers higher than Grassley's past 3 opponents
b)likely to automatically get at least 35% and likely 40% of the vote (somewhere between 7 and 12 points higher than the last 3)
c)a strong enough candidate to take advantage if there is a Macaca moment a la Jim Webb 2006
d)likely to tie down millions of dollars in GOP money
e)risk free in that he's not giving up an office
f)just young enough to be on the edge of viability (maybe I'm making too much out of the seniority thing)
Since running against Grassley will be an uphill battle, I would like Democrats to nominate someone who doesn't have to give up a current elected position.
On a related note, Grassley is still playing rope-a-dope with the White House, this morning backing down on his ridiculous comments about pulling the plug on grandma. I hope key people in the Obama administration finally understand that nothing is to be gained by seeking a compromise with Grassley. The Senate Finance Committee "gang of six" is taking two weeks off from negotiating, probably because delays help Republican efforts to defeat health care reform.
Share any thoughts about Grassley or the 2010 Senate race in this thread.