Grassley May Get First Serious Challenger in Years

Iowa's Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee and one of the leading opponents of healthcare reform, has never faced a serious reelection challenge since he first rode Ronald Reagan's coattails to the Senate in 1980. Next year may be different.

Christie Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, sounds as if she may be the "mystery candidate" the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party said was poised to run for the U.S. Senate.

Republican Chuck Grassley will seek a sixth term in the U.S. Senate in 2010 and, so far, two eastern Iowa Democrats who once served in the state legislature have announced they're running.  But during an interview with WHO TV, Christie Vilsack -- a lifelong Democrat -- revealed she's considering a run for the senate herself.

"I am honored that people would think of me in that way and would talk to me about running for any office and I think I'm well-qualified to run," Vilsack said.  "I think I'm qualified to serve, so time will tell."

As desmoinesdem has already noted here at MyDD, Grassley has been hemorrhaging support in recent months as voter in his state have watched him serve as one of the leading obstructionists attempting to block healthcare reform. As you can see from the chart of SurveyUSA polling below, Grassley has gone from an impressive 71 percent positive/23 percent negative approval spread in February to a much more lukewarm 50 percent positive/40 percent negative spread.

That trajectory is simply awful for Grassley, and it speaks to his vulnerability to a serious challenger -- someone the likes of a Christie Vilsack, who knows Iowa politics as well as anyone in the state. And to reiterate a point I made above, considering that Grassley hasn't faced a real challenge in 30 years, it's not abundantly clear that he still has what it takes to win a real race.

Tags: IA-Sen, Iowa, Senate 2010 (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

over at Bleeding Heartland

We've been discussing the so-called mystery Grassley challenger for the past few weeks. Some people feel Christie Vilsack would be the ideal candidate, and she's got a lot going for her. Although she's never held elective office, she has lots of experience on the campaign trail and is a good speaker. She would also energize the network of Hillary supporters around the state. Although Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses, she did get more than 70,000 people to stand in her corner on a cold night in January, which was a strong turnout.

Beyond the network of Clinton supporters, I think Vilsack could mobilize a lot of other women to get involved, like this Bleeding Heartland commenter:

I've been pretty committed to sitting out in 2010, as far as putting my boots on the ground to volunteer.  I'm still burned out from the caucus/general election cycle of 07-08, but if the Iowa Democratic party puts a viable female candidate up against Grassley, I might just have to change my mind.  

Many Democrats who used to be indifferent to Grassley are now really mad at him and motivated to GOTV against him.

Grassley's never been re-elected with less than 66 percent of the vote before. In 2004 he got 70 percent. In my mind the main goal for next year is to hold Grassley to, say, 55 percent or lower. Iowa has straight party-line voting as an option, and the federal races are at the top of the ballot. So a strong challenger to Grassley could really help our straight D voting, and therefore our down-ticket candidates, even if Grassley ended up winning a sixth term.

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-15 11:46AM | 0 recs
Sure would be nice to see him sweat,

even if he pulls it out in the end. Will be pulling for her if she runs.

by sricki 2009-10-15 07:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Grassley May Get First Serious Challenger

Sounds like she has a chance if she actually runs on her own platform and not this 'Vote for me because I'm not the other guy foolishness', that Creigh Deeds is running on here in Virginia.

by xodus1914 2009-10-16 06:01AM | 0 recs

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