Kiernan promises Grassley "the race of his life"

Iowa Democratic Party chair Michael Kiernan spoke confidently today about a “first-round draft pick” who is ready to run against Senator Chuck Grassley, Kay Henderson reported for Radio Iowa.

“I’m going to tell you here today that Chuck Grassley is going to be in for the race of his life.” […]

“You’re just going to have to wait to find out,” Kiernan said this morning during taping of this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program.  “We want to wait ’til, obviously, after Terry Branstad announced his candidacy for governor.”

Kiernan isn’t revealing the characteristics this phantom candidate may have either. “I’ll just wait for the announcement,” Kiernan said.  “You will be impressed.” […]

“I’m here to tell you today that it will be the toughest race that Chuck Grassley has faced since John Culver,” Kiernan said.

Grassley defeated Senator John Culver (Governor Chet Culver’s father) in the 1980 Reagan landslide.

Speaking to reporters after today’s taping, Kiernan said the big-name challenger is “100 percent committed” to this race.

Your guess is as good as mine. A retired politician? Christie Vilsack? A celebrity in a non-political field? Someone from the business world? (Retired Principal Financial Group CEO Barry Griswell has ruled out running, as has Fred Hubbell, the incoming interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development.)

Grassley’s approval rating has fallen this year, but it’ll take a lot to convince me that we can defeat him. He’s still got a strong brand name and 30 years of constituent service behind him.

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  • Fred Grandy,...

    Ashton Kutcher, Tom Arnold or the kid who played Superman.


  • I hope Kiernan can deliver

    It would be great if its Jim Leach.  Leach would have the name recognition.  I don’t know if he could raise the money.  He always was a sane republican.  He can’t fit it the republican party of today.  But if he wanted to run as a Democrat he would be a lottery pick.

    • interesting

      but he just got confirmed as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which seems like a great job for him. I don’t think he would want to take on Grassley.

      I agree with you, if Kiernan is talking like this he better have some really big name up his sleeve.

  • From

    “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 personally doubt Braley will run, but Iowans seem to have changed their minds (his poll numbers have dropped) about Grassley. They no longer think he’s the moderate conservative he used to be.

  • As of now,

    Grassley would beat even Obama or Harkin in a hypothetical matchup (using popularity as an indicator), so I’m really not sure who would give Chuck “the race of his life.”

    • Me neither

      I can’t really see it either. I see good candidates out there, but I don’t see someone who’s the supernova candidate that Kiernan seems to suggest.

      But then again, that’s Kiernan’s job: half James Carville, half P.T. Barnum. A little hyperbole comes with the territory.

    • holding him to 55 percent

      would be huge for our down-ticket candidates. Iowa has straight-party voting, and the federal races are at the top of the ballot. If we have a credible candidate, we should be able to bank a lot more straight D votes.

  • Bruce wont do it...

    Bruce won’t do it, he’ll wait for a retirement…

    However at a Fundraising event Tom Fiegen, a candidate for U.S. Senate already, mentioned Jim Leech several times in a negative fashion last night in E-burg. I found it odd to beat up a guy who recently switched parties and endorsed Obama, so quickly. It was an odd punching bag at a DEM event. He also said that 1 or 2 big names were going to get in the race soon.  In other news: Fiegan had a wonderful performance. Very polished and out-shined Bob Krause by 150%. I was impressed by his bio & signature “Fiegen-omics.” Still, I will wait for the mystery candidate(s)…

    Personally, I’d like to know what Sally Peterson is up too. The Fmr. Lt. Gov and Party Chairwoman would shake things up, there is no question. She could be BANK also.

    I’m hoping for a strong women. It would give the Hilary base of the DEM party here in Iowa someone to cheer/work hard for immediately. The powerful organizing force of EMILYs List (National Org) would be instantly engaged in IA too. If she is pro-labour she could quickly galvanize a depressed portion of the state party and put them to enthusiastically to work against Grassley. (They aren’t excited about Culver).  

    All cylinders of the IDP will have to be fully operational if its going to happen and it all begins with a serious candidate and early money. I never thought i’d say this, especially after ART SMALL…. I’m extremely excited about the campaign against Grassley in 2010!  

    • yes, a strong woman candidate

      would be excellent for firing up the base. People keep e-mailing me about Roxanne Conlin, but it would be interesting if Sally Pederson got in this race.

  • What about Tom Vilsack?

    He has a solid history of winning state-wide elections, and can bring the money. His announcing might even scare Grassley into retirement.  

    • I don't see any way

      he would retire as Secretary of Agriculture in order to take on the uphill task of running against Grassley. Vilsack is young enough to run for Senate later if he wants to, maybe when Harkin or Grassley retires and the seat is open. Meanwhile, he adds to his resume and builds more political support in Iowa as head of the USDA.