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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley on Wednesday reiterated his supports for term limits for members of Congress as he marked 63 consecutive years in public office and seeks re-election to an eighth term in the U.S. Senate.
The Iowa Republican, now 88, was sworn into the Iowa House on Jan. 12, 1959, at the age of 25.
If re-elected this fall, he would be 95 at the end of his six-year term and would have served 70 consecutive years in public office.
Grassley has voted for and supports proposals limiting members of Congress to 12-year terms — two full terms in the Senate and six in the House.
"And I did that because I believe it," Grassley said on a weekly conference call with Iowa reporters.
However, those plans either didn't make it out of committee, were tabled when they reached the floor or fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to begin the process of amending the U.S. Constitution.
Asked then why is he seeking an eighth term, given his support for term limits, Grassley said not seeking re-election would deprive Iowans of strong, effective leadership in the Senate to advance policies that benefit Iowa families, farmers and businesses.
"You would be diluting the influence of your state if you decide to quit after two (terms) when other people don't have that," he said. "I'm looking to the future, working for Iowans, and no one can help Iowans in the United States Senate more than me, based on seniority. ... And then I've got a pretty darn good record of being a leader on agriculture" as one of two crop farmers in the Senate.
"You also have to realize the ballot box is terms limits if people don't want you in there," he added. "That's just kind of the way I look at it."
Grassley has been in the U.S. Senate since 1981, holding major committee assignments — including as chairman of the powerful Senate finance and judiciary committees — and formerly serving as the chamber’s second-highest presiding officer as president pro-tempore.
Nearly two-thirds of likely Iowa voters this summer said they would prefer someone new to hold Grassley’s seat. And Grassley has recently seen sagging job approval ratings that one noted Iowa pollster said may present warning signs.
However, Grassley’s job approval rating was a net positive in the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, with 45 percent of Iowa voters saying they approve of his job performance and 41 percent saying they disapprove.
And polling from September showed Grassley leading former Democratic congresswoman and state lawmaker Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids by 18 percentage points among likely voters in an early test of a possible 2022 Senate matchup.
"Forty-seven years in Washington DC is too damn long, for anyone," Finkenauer said in an email response to a request for comment. "I don’t care who you are or which party. I don’t think he even knows why he’s running again, and Iowa deserves so much more."
Other Democrats running in Iowa’s 2022 U.S. Senate race are U.S. Navy veteran Mike Franken of Sioux City, physician Glenn Hurst of Minden and activist and veterans advocate Bob Krause of Burlington.
Grassley also faces a challenge in the Republican primary from Sioux City attorney and state lawmaker Jim Carlin.