Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley hasn’t made up his mind about whether to run for an 8th(!) term in 2022.
But Iowa voters have! And they’re ready for Grassley to retire.
That’s the finding of a new Des Moines Register poll that showed 55% of Iowans want Grassley to end his political career next year as compared to just 28% who said they would like to see him run for another term.
Most remarkable — and concerning for Grassley — is that more than 1 in 3 self-identified Republicans (35%) say they think the time has come for him to retire.
At issue for Grassley is his age. At 87, he is the second-oldest member of the chamber — only California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is older — and if he did run and win an 8th term, Grassley would be 95 by the time it ended.
“I can almost feel the tension as Republican respondents are dealing with it,” J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the poll, told the Des Moines Register of the Grassley numbers. “He’s the most popular senator since the inception of the Iowa Poll and probably the closest thing to a sure bet that they would have for the party.’”
What you have in these numbers are Republicans caught between their desire to hold the seat, which Grassley almost certainly gives Republicans their best chance to do, and the belief that running for reelection in 2022 at age 89 is a bridge too far — regardless of party.
Feinstein’s experience is instructive here, and may function as a warning to Grassley. Reelected in 2018, Feinstein faced a series of critical stories late last year that suggested she was struggling to do the job. She was forced to step down as the incoming head of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress.
Grassley has said of late that he won’t make his mind up about running again until sometime this fall. But these poll numbers have to give him some pause about that decision — even if asking about whether he should retire is not at all the same thing as polling that shows him badly trailing possible Democratic opponents.
If Grassley does call it quits, he would be the sixth Republican senator (at least) to do so — following other longtime establishment stalwarts, such as Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Roy Bunt of Missouri, to the exits.
And while Republicans would likely retain an edge in the initial handicapping of an open-seat race, it very well could be a costly race — even if they hold the seat come November 2022.
The Point: A politician’s age is never an easy thing for voters to talk about — or for the media to write about. But in Grassley’s case, it appears as though voters have made their minds up that it’s time for him to go.
- US President Joe Biden has put Vice-President Kamala Harris in charge of controlling migration at the southern, border following a big influx of new arrivals.