Grassley backing grandson for Iowa agriculture post

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U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has endorsed his grandson for the soon-to-be vacant job of Iowa secretary of agriculture.

The current secretary, Bill Northey, is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate this fall as an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If that happens, Gov. Kim Reynolds will appoint a successor.

Iowa House Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, has been mentioned as a possible appointee.

“I know darn well you expect me to support my grandson — and I am,” Sen. Grassley told reporters Wednesday during his regular conference call. “I hope he will be appointed.”

Reynolds hasn’t said much about her plans to replace Northey. At this time, she doesn’t have a “short list,” according to a spokeswoman.

In addition to Rep. Grassley, a number of names — all Republicans and all farmers — have surfaced as possible replacements, including former state Rep. Annette Sweeney of Alden, Sen. Dan Zumbach of Ryan and Sen. Tim Kapucian of Keystone.

All said they would be interested if asked to fill the remainder of Northey’s term, which extends to January 2019.

Sen. Grassley said he thought his grandson would be a good fit.

“I think being former chairman of the Agriculture Committee and demonstrating real leadership in the 18 months he’s been chairman of the Appropriations Committee” — a post the elder Grassley once held — “and recognized as a leader in the Iowa Legislature, plus being in the farming operation, I think he would fit in very well,” he said. “He wants it and, obviously, I’m going to advocate for it.”

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