As the GOP continues to gear up for the 2022 midterm elections and the effort to restore Congress to Republican control, the battle for the Senate is beginning to clear up. With the announcement last week by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that he will be seeking an eighth term at age 88, the party will be able to devote resources to other battleground races next year.
Grassley was first elected to Congress in 1975 and won his first term in the Senate as part of the Republican landslide in 1980 that saw the election of President Reagan to his first term. He is seen as a virtual lock for reelection in recent polling, with a significant early lead over Democrat Abby Finkenauer.
Iowa has enjoyed the prestige that Grassley has earned over the years in the Senate, especially as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That position has placed Grassley in a central position in the confirmation of many federal judges during the Trump administration and three justices to the Supreme Court. He was a daily media presence during the highly controversial confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Finkenauer is a former member of Congress. At age 32, she hopes to identify with younger voters convinced that Grassley is more interested in power than representing their interests.
She said that Senators like Grassley and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are “obsessed with power” and oppose “anything that moves us forward.” Like most Democrats, Finkenauer has been running on the media narrative surrounding the riot at the Capitol on January 6. She said that Grassley and McConnell have “turned their back on democracy” since that day.
Finkenauer was elected to a single term in the House before being defeated in her first reelection bid by Republican woman Ashley Hinson.
Grassley’s decision to run again brings a feeling of resolution for Republicans on a critical part of next year’s Senate strategy. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is facing a difficult election if he decides to run again and is holding off on announcing his decision until later this year. Republican Senators are retiring in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and the GOP will face tough races in both states.