U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley announced on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program today that he plans to run for re-election again in 2016.
“I like serving Iowans. I enjoy my work. I feel very good about being able to do the job and there’s a lot to accomplish.”
Iowa’s other Senator – 73-year-old Tom Harkin, a Democrat – is currently in his fifth term and no other state has more seniority in the senate. Harkin announced this past January that he would not seek a sixth term in 2014, sparking speculation that would pressure Grassley to retire as well, but Grassley told reporters Harkin’s looming exit had the opposite effect.
“You get a lot done with seniority,” Grassley said. “I think that if Iowa is going to start over two years from now with two very junior senators, that it would hurt Iowa’s opportunity to get things done in the United States Senate.”
I have to wonder whether the race for Harkin’s seat has been weighing on Grassley’s mind. The Iowa GOP has so far produced a cluttered field of Senate candidates with low name recognition. None of the early candidates raised a significant amount of money during the second quarter of the year. The fundraising potential of State Senator Joni Ernst remains to be seen, but she comes across as programmed with her “mother, soldier, and conservative” shtick. Likely candidate Mark Jacobs can self-fund but may be dead in the shark-infested GOP primary waters with his $3,000 contribution to Arlen Specter a few months after Specter gave Democrats their 60th Senate seat. The field is so uninspiring that Bob Vander Plaats of all people is thinking about the race.
If the Iowa GOP can’t field a strong Senate candidate in a midterm election year, where turnout often favors Republicans, how would they do trying to replace Grassley in a presidential year?
Iowa’s senior senator would be 89 years old by the end of his seventh term if re-elected in 2016. Grassley ran six miles on September 17 to mark his 80th birthday this week, and also possibly to pre-empt any questions about his physical health.