CEDAR RAPIDS — Patty Judge wishes the conversation in the final weeks before the Nov. 8 election wasn’t about Donald Trump’s “locker room talk.”
“I wish it was a referendum on what has happened in the last six years in the U.S. Senate, what they have accomplished and what they have not accomplished, and what we can do in the next six years that will be better,” the Albia Democrat said during a stop in Cedar Rapids Wednesday.
It’s not that Trump’s comments and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s continued support for him don’t matter, but it overshadows economic security issues concerning Iowans, Judge said.
Iowans are concerned about having jobs and wages that keep up with the cost of living, making sure Social Security is preserved and making college affordable.
“All those things that I know are important to Iowans are not what’s driving this election right now,” said Judge, who is challenging the six-term senator.
The election has to be about change, Judge said, because the “situation we have seen in the last eight years is unacceptable. We’re falling behind.”
The election should be “the fact that people believe that Washington is not working, the system is broken,” according to Judge. “He definitely is part of the system. He’s been there 36 years. He’s responsible in large part for what’s happening and not happening.”
The Trump distraction has allowed Grassley to avoid addressing that.
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“He’s been largely invisible,” Judge said. “He’s refused to debate me statewide, withdrew from Iowa Public Television debate, refused to get on the state fair soap box. He’s largely been in hiding, trying to protect his incumbency.”
If Grassley is invisible “it’s because (Judge) doesn’t venture out much,” Grassley campaign manager Robert Haus said.
“She can’t escape the fact that even her most ardent supporters wonder where she’s been, and Democrats desperately wish they had a different candidate running for U.S. Senate. Her fundamental problem is that Iowans remember all too well why they booted her from office in 2010, and they won’t make the same mistake twice.”
Grassley, Judge countered, has offered no plan for the next six years, such as how he will secure flood protection funding for Cedar Rapids, Judge said.
“Sending someone a letter periodically is not going to move the needle,” she said, a references to Grassley’s letters to the Army Corps of Engineers. “I was here in 2008 and I know what it takes to move things along.”
Although disappointed that Grassley withdrew from the public television debate, Judge is looking forward to an Oct. 19 debate in Sioux City. It will be broadcast on KTIV in Sioux City, KWWL in Waterloo/Cedar Rapids, KTTC in Rochester, Minn., and WGEM in Quincy, Ill., as well as being streamed live on the stations’ websites.
Grassley and Judge will meet again at 4 p.m. Nov. 4 for a WHO Radio debate, which will be televised by WHO-TV.