IA-Sen: Might Bruce Braley Take On Chuck Grassley?

( - promoted by desmoinesdem)

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

Two Democratic former state legislators, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause, are working on 2010 Senate bids to face Republican deather Chuck “pull the plug on grandma” Grassley.  Despite Grassley’s increasingly Looney Tunes demeanor, he does have just over $3.8 million in the bank as of the end of June.

Still, the Des Moines Register ran the following:

I’m told by mostly reliable sources there is a well-known mystery candidate who’s about 75 percent ready to join the race. The mystery candidate supposedly has name recognition and money.

(continues after the jump)

The item led Politico’s Scorecard blog to speculate:

Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) sharp recent criticism of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is bound to get the rumor mills cranking about a possible challenge in 2010.

While there’s not a lot of evidence of Grassley’s vulnerability-he hasn’t won with less than 60 percent since winning the seat in 1980-he’s taken some hits recently, most notably for his “pull the plug on Grandma” town hall comments. …

Braley, of course, would fit that bill [the Des Moines Register’s item] as a high-profile congressman with a background that includes heading the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.

There’s a certain Iowa political logic to a Braley challenge as well. When Iowa was sending mostly Republican House members to Congress, one of them invariably challenged the state’s junior senator, Democrat Tom Harkin (Harkin himself rose from the House by defeating an incumbent senator in 1984).

Now, three of the five-member House delegation are Democrats and it may be Grassley’s turn.

Congressman Bruce Braley isn’t raising money like he’s preparing for an uphill, statewide campaign.  He had just under $350,000 in his campaign account as of the end of June, or about one-eleventh of Grassley’s money.  Still, with Grassley’s high profile role as a roadblock to health care reform, Congressman Braley could probably raise adequate funds.  On top of which, as founder of the U.S. House’s Populist Caucus, he could probably turn the health care debate and other issue messaging battles against Grassley better than any other Democrat in Iowa.

Keep in mind, Grassley is not unbeatable.  A December 2008 Research 2000 poll of a hypothetical IA-Sen match-up between Grassley and Democratic former Governor Tom Vilsack came up a statistical dead heat, with Grassley only narrowly leading 48-44.  And that was before Grassley got in bed with the deathers, serving as a top roadblock to health care reform.

Of course, all of this is just speculation; but, if Congressman Braley took the plunge, this could become a top tier battle, especially if Grassley’s rhetoric grows more and more outrageous.  Definitely worth keeping an eye on.  So who wants to jump on that Draft Braley effort?

  • I'd Love to See Braley Take Him On

    I know a lot of bloggers think Grassley’s unbeatable. I don’t agree. There’s a “vote ’em all out” mentality out there right now, and I think it will only get louder in 2010. Grassley’s head could very well be on the chopping block, especially with all the negative attention he’s garnered lately, and Braley could definitely be our next Senator. This is not to discount Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause. I think they’re both very credible candidates, too.  

  • not a chance in the world

    Braley has a safe House seat and good committee assignments. It would be crazy for him to risk that by taking on Grassley now. I see him running for Senate whenever Grassley or Harkin retires, not before.

    I’ve heard nothing about a mystery candidate planning to take on Grassley, but I would hope that candidate would not give up any current elected office to do so and would be able to self-finance.

    I am not interested in drafting Braley for this race at all.

    • Braley isn't the mystery candidate...

      I agree. There’s no chance of Braley running in 2010. But Braley does have ambitions beyond the 1st District. He knows that to raise his profile, he needs to take some potshots at the GOP sacred cows. Simple as that.

      Hansen, on the other hand, is harder to figure out. That Register column was about as obtuse as a calculus textbook.

  • You're Right, Desmoinesdem

    The more I think about it, the more I think it would be a mistake for Braley to give up his seat to run against Grassley.

    I’m hoping either Krause or Fiegen will take Grassley on with vigor. I think the primary will draw national attention at any rate, and I believe either one will have a good shot against that bought-and-paid-for old coot.

    • Deeth has a good post up

      on this speculation. Christie Vilsack? That would be fun. Some Republicans are reportedly worried about Mike Blouin. I’m not his biggest fan by any means but I could certainly get behind him in the general against Grassley.

      • Christie Vilsack? Oh, I Hope Not.

        What are her credentials? And those stupid hats she used to wear and how she felt like a princess in the gown she bought for the inaugural ball.

        I’m really interested in Fieberg, but it sounds like he might only carry eastern Iowa. Plus, I emailed Fieberg and never got a reply. Not good. Probably Krause is more viable.

        I think this race will depend on how Grassley is perceived come election time. Sure, the right wingers and the corporate Republicans love him, but if enough fed-up Democrats and Independents show up…same old story, I guess…and I have a feeling no candidate will get much support from Rahm and the “Party Leaders.” There is a lot of animosity toward Grassley in the blogoshere, though, and money might come from Act Blue, etc. Just my opinion.

        • Fieberg never answered?

          Maybe you wrote to the wrong person.  No Fieberg is running.  Meanwhile Tom Fiegen answered 100 emails yesterday, so I think he’s working pretty hard.  

  • Realistically, I think the average, informed Iowan

    doesn’t really think that Grassley has gone off the deep end.  Until I see something differently in the polls, Grassley is probably still more popular in Iowa than Culver, Harkin, and Obama.

    Whoever runs against Grassley in an off year will have a tough go.

    A big reason that Grassley has been a major point man for the GOP during the HC battle is because his reelection is likely.

    It’s just the way it is, barring a meltdown, which hasn’t occurred at this time, even if some on the left side of the aisle think it has.

    • Not crazy per se...

      I agree. I don’t think there’s a widespread notion of Grassley losing his marbles.

      That said, he is showing some chinks in his armor. Those crazy tweets and getting skewered by Jon Stewart don’t help. I do sense among the average Iowan, the feeling that Grassley is starting to show his age a little bit and maybe this ought to be his last ride.

      • So far the average Iowan . . .

        …doesn’t know about Grassley’s foolishness.  That’s what a good campaign can do–teach voters about their crazy old farmer in Washington who is still running on the reputation he made a generation ago by exposing the Pentagon’s $600 toilet seats.

    • Once upon a time...

      George Allen of Virginia was unbeatable too.  Of course, that was before “macaca”-gate.

      I agree with American007.  Grassley has plenty of time to make a YouTube worthy gaffe and, if there’s a strong Democratic contender and the political winds are right…well, it’s not likely, but not impossible either.  

      • Allen didn't have 30 years

        of constituent service and visiting every county every year behind him like Grassley does. He also lost in a Democratic wave election, which 2010 isn’t going to be. If we’re lucky we will have a very small net loss in the House and perhaps break even in the Senate.

        I would love to see a Democrat make a race out of this, but for now Grassley is still in the safe category.

  • Grassley's money

    check this out and tell me that Grassley is not bought and paid for.

    Top 5 contributers

    Amgen Inc        $33,300

    Blue Cross/Blue Shield $26,750

    Select Medical Corp $23,000

    Occidental Petroleum $21,000

    DaVita Inc        $18,000

    Top five industries:

    Health Professionals            $222,406

    Insurance                    $184,998

    Pharmaceuticals/Health Products    $145,150

    Lobbyists                    $137,846

    Hospitals/Nursing Homes            $137,337

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pol…

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