116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A late spring poll of Iowa voters found that nearly two-thirds of them thought it was time for someone other than Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley to represent them.
Democrats seized on that Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll to make the case that Iowans are ready to replace the New Hartford Republican with a younger, more progressive senator.
But Democrats weren’t the only ones to find encouragement in the finding that Iowans felt a need for change.
Sioux City state Sen. Jim Carlin, who’s challenging Grassley for the 2022 Republication nomination, is nearly three decades younger than Grassley, who turned 88 this fall — but hardly a more progressive alternative. However, he said he is finding support for a fresh face.
“As I travel around the state, there's a very healthy appetite for change. Very healthy,” Carlin said recently. “For various reasons, people think that now would be a good time for Sen. Grassley to step down.”
However, an subsequent Iowa Poll done in the days leading up to Grassley’s September announcement that he would seek an eighth term found that he nonetheless had an 18 percentage point lead on perhaps the best known of the handful of Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for his Senate seat.
For the time being, Carlin’s focus is on Grassley, not Democrats. He said he finding Iowans who are upset with the incumbent’s vote for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Grassley was the only Iowa Republican in Congress to vote for it.
The package, signed into law by Democratic President Joe Biden, includes support for electric vehicles and charging stations.
“You’re a senator from Iowa and you vote for an infrastructure bill that has funding for electric cars?” Carlin asked. “Ethanol markets aren't going to benefit from electric cars. It's not going to help our farmers.”
Grassley campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Heins said Iowa farmers know “no one's been a stronger or more effective advocate for Iowa farmers or biofuels workers” than the senator.
“Sen. Grassley’s vote for real infrastructure was good for Iowa’s roads, bridges, locks and dams — essential infrastructure to get crops and other goods to market,” Heins said. “There’s no doubt that his vote is making it a lot harder for President Biden to enact his ‘Build Back Better’ bill, a billionaire bailout and reckless tax and spending spree that’s fanning the fires of record high inflation.”
Carlin, serving his second term in the state Senate, also notes “a lot of people are still upset about his decision to certify the election.”
The Grassley campaign pointed out Congress doesn’t certify presidential election results. States do. Congress counts the votes that states send it. Although some members of Congress voted not to count the votes, Grassley was among the majority of Republicans and Democrats who accepted state-certified 2020 presidential election results despite former President Donald Trump’s objections.
“I obviously wasn't happy about it because I was a very staunch supporter of President Donald Trump's and I remain a supporter of President Donald Trump,” Carlin said.
Trump has endorsed Grassley, but Carlin hasn’t given up on getting the former president’s support also.
“I sure would have loved to have had his endorsement, but it doesn't deter me any because from what I’m hearing from people around me — Iowans still want to see that change,” he said.
Since endorsing Grassley, Trump has been critical of the 19 GOP senators who voted for the infrastructure bill, Carlin noted, and those who accepted states’ election results.
“We'll see what happens down the road,” Carlin said.
In the meantime, Carlin said he is meeting with GOP county parties as well as “patriots groups, different freedom groups, medical freedom groups, in particular, people that oppose vaccination mandates.”
“Those people are almost all on board with us,” he said, mentioning a meeting in southeast Iowa with about 200 hospital personnel “who don't want to be forced to take the vaccination to keep their jobs.”
“You know, when you reach a point where the government can force a vaccination on you, that is a really concerning thing for me,” said Carlin, a lawyer.
Grassley has opposed federal vaccine mandates, too, and last week voted with a Senate majority to overturn Biden’s vaccine mandate on private employers.
At the same time, Grassley has encouraged Iowans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 of their own volition. He’s also said the question of mask requirements is up to local and state governments, and praised Gov. Kim Reynolds’ response to the pandemic, including her opposition to mask mandates.
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