Government

Grassley undecided about running for re-election in 2022

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley talks with Gazette reporter James Lynch at Early Bird Cafe in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Grassley answered questions ranging from the immigrant caravan making its way through Mexico to the Kavanaugh hearings to whether he will run for reelection in 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley talks with Gazette reporter James Lynch at Early Bird Cafe in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Grassley answered questions ranging from the immigrant caravan making its way through Mexico to the Kavanaugh hearings to whether he will run for reelection in 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley feels like he could live to be 100.

“But that’s not real life,” the 85-year-old Republican said Tuesday when asked about his 2022 re-election plans.

If anyone asked six years ago, “I would have said ‘Yes, I’m definitely running for re-election,’” Grassley said during an interview at a downtown Cedar Rapids coffeehouse. However, he’ll be 89 in 2022 “so why don’t you ask me in September of 2021,” he said.

He’s delaying his decision on an eighth term “because I need to be able to know that I can get through until I’m 95.”

Grassley, a runner who is also known to pop off 20 push-ups to demonstrate his physical fitness, has said he doesn’t want to serve if he is not healthy enough to do the job he and Iowans expect.

At the coffee shop, two patrons stopped on their way out to tell Grassley they don’t like the job he’s doing. He’s not representing all Iowans, they said before declining his invitation to sit down and visit.

Grassley isn’t a stranger to that type of feedback from constituents, but he noted that as he was arriving at the shop, a woman stopped to thank him and said she prays for him. While eating lunch at a fast-food restaurant, he added, five different people thanked him for his actions and patience during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings on President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

“Is it possible that you’ve been in the Senate 38 years and with all the turmoil going on and all the Kavanaugh stuff and the stress with it, I like what I’m doing?” he said. “I love my work.”

However, he insists he doesn’t know whether he’ll run again.

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“I honestly don’t know. I’m going to wait and make up my mind,” Grassley said, adding that his wife, Barbara, “is going to have something to say about it.”

“I’m going to guess that she’s not anxious for me to run for re-election,” Grassley said, adding with a smile, “but that doesn’t mean I’m not.”

Grassley has served as one of Iowa’s two U.S. senators since taking office in 1981, first joining Congress in 1975, serving three terms as a U.S. representative for Iowa’s 3rd District. Before that, he served in the Iowa Statehouse starting in 1959.

Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann said the party will give Grassley as much time as he wants to make up his mind, but said it’s hard to think of the party “or a United States Senate through the lens of Iowa without thinking of Chuck Grassley.”

Grassley’s retirement, whenever it occurs, will be a loss to the party and the state, he added.

“If the question is ‘When will there ever be too much Chuck Grassley?’ my answer is ‘never,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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