Grassley: Iowa Democrats resent Washington meddling in Senate primary

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DES MOINES — Sen. Chuck Grassley finds it “kind of funny” that Washington Democrats lining up behind Patty Judge before she’s won the support of Iowa Democrats.

“I don’t know why they picked Patty Judge,” the six-term Republican said Wednesday about the field of Democrats who are seeking their party’s nomination to oppose him in the fall.

Grassley noted that State Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids has the endorsement of 78 legislators so “it seems to me he’s got the grass roots support.”

Based on what he’s been reading, Grassley said it sounds like Democrats supporting Hogg or former legislator Tom Feigen of Clarence “kind of resent Washington Democrats pushing a certain candidate on Democratic voters of Iowa.”

“It’s just kind of funny they are bringing somebody to Washington until that person has talked to Iowans,” Grassley said. “Why would you come to Washington before you go to Washington Iowa?”

Judge, Hogg, Fiegen and former state lawmaker Bob Krause of Fairfield are seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Grassley, who has been considered safe by political handicappers. The invincibility of the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman is being questioned because of his refusal to consider any Supreme Court nominee President Barack Obama sends to the Senate.

Judge, who served as a state senator, Iowa agriculture secretary and lieutenant governor, rejected the idea that she’s been handpicked by party elites.

“I never viewed myself as being anyone’s establishment anything,” she said. “It’s kind of flattering that they think I’m Harry Reid’s pick.”

She sees the 2016 election as an opportunity to flip the Senate seat.

“This cycle is a game-changer,” she said. “I believe he can be beat. There is an opportunity here or otherwise I would not be putting my hat in the ring.”

Neither Grassley nor Judge have filed their nomination petitions with the Iowa Secretary of State. They have until March 18. Fiegen and Hogg have filed.

Des Moines bureau reporter Rod Boshart contributed to this story

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