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At 88 years old, Sen. Chuck Grassley says he’ll run for reelection in Iowa in 2022

  • September 24, 2021

it was “one of the little things I pray about” on his solo, early-morning jogs.leading Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer by 18 percentage points, 55% to 37%, in an early test of the race.

Every seat will matter on Election Day 2022 as Republicans seek to break Democrats’ razor-thin control of the U.S. Senate. The chamber is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote for Democrats.

At stake is an aggressive agenda pushed by President Joe Biden’s administration and bolstered by Democrats in Congress, including massive infrastructure and budget packages.

Grassley’s announcement comes after a wave of other incumbent Republican senators have announced their retirements, complicating the party’s 2022 map. They include Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard Selby of Alabama.

Grassley is not expected to face a serious primary challenge, though Republican state Sen. Jim Carlin has announced a campaign.

Chuck Grassley weighs an 8th term in the U.S. Senate. How he’s making up his mind.

Finkeanuer is the best-known Democrat to enter the race after announcing her campaign in July. Two other high-profile Democrats — U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and state Auditor Rob Sand — have ruled out Senate runs. But retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken, who lost his 2020 Senate primary, is considering entering the race.

51% of Iowans have a favorable view of Grassley, 37% have an unfavorable view of him, and 12% are not sure.

Among Republicans, 81% rate him favorably, but just 14% of Democrats do.

That’s a “strong” number, pollster J. Ann Selzer said. But it falls short of the 90% favorability mark Republicans give to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in the same poll.

Grassley’s longevity seen as a strength and a weakness

Although Grassley enters the race in a strong position, he’s not without weaknesses.

Historically, Grassley’s approval ratings have been among some of the highest in the state — even hitting the 80% threshold on occasion. But today, his approval rating is at one of its lowest points ever.

According to the Register’s Iowa Poll, 47% of Iowans approve of the job he’s doing, another 40% disapprove and 13% are not sure. 

In interviews with poll respondents and event attendees across the state, Iowans say they remain fond of Grassley but worry he’s been in office for too long. 

He was first elected to the Iowa Legislature in 1958 at the age of 23, and he’s held elected office continuously ever since. He was elected to his first term in the U.S. Senate in 1980. Today, he is 88 years old and would be 95 at the end of another term.

Paula Crow, a registered Republican from Centerville who responded to the Register’s June Iowa Poll, said she likes that Grassley stands up to “the left” and thinks he handled the pandemic well. But she would like to see a different Republican take his seat.  

Chuck Grassley leads Abby Finkenauer in test of possible U.S. Senate matchup

Finkenauer already has cast his longevity as a handicap, tweeting recently that Grassley has been in office since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. 

“13 different presidents – 7 Republicans, 6 Democrats. Chuck Grassley has been a politician the whole time. And where has that gotten us, Iowa?” she said. 

Others, though, say Grassley’s longevity is a boon for the state, giving Iowa outsize influence in Congress. 

When Republicans held control of the Senate, Grassley became president pro tempore, putting him third in line to the presidency. He presided over Supreme Court battles as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he led the powerful Senate Finance Committee. If Republicans regain control, he would likely resume leadership of the Judiciary Committee, where he is currently the top-ranking Republican.

Who’s running for Iowa governor in 2022?:Here are Democratic candidates hoping to challenge Kim Reynolds

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach her at or follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

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