DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley was elected to an eighth term Tuesday, defeating Democrat Michael Franken and putting himself in position to be the Senate’s most senior member.
Grassley beat the retired Navy admiral after a race that had been seen as more competitive than the typically easy victories the veteran Republican had achieved since first being elected to the Senate in 1980.
“We’re living in the midst of disruption, the midst of frustration, of transformation, of deeply held and vastly different points of view in America," Grassley said in his victory speech. “You heard what happened in the presidential campaign, that the Democrats and Biden wanted to transform American. You and I want to preserve America."
Franken had cast Grassley, 89, as an entrenched politician who has served too long and contributed to Washington partisanship. Although Grassley’s approval in Iowa has declined in the past decades, he won while portraying his lengthy career as an asset and by portraying Franken as too liberal for Iowa.
As a retired three-star admiral, Franken, 64, of Sioux City, would have been the highest-ranking military officer elected to the Senate.
Grassley had cruised to six crushing victories since he beat Democratic Sen. John Culver by eight percentage points in 1980, never winning by fewer than 20 percentage points.
Polling this fall indicated a tighter race against Franken, who had raised more in campaign contributions than Grassley during the 3rd Quarter of 2022.
Grassley, who would turn 95 four months before his next term expires, will be among the oldest sitting senators in the chamber’s history. Republican Strom Thurmond of South Carolina retired at age 100 in 2003.
Grassley will be the Senate’s oldest Republican and second oldest member behind California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is three months older than Grassley.
Franken did not make Grassley’s age a specific issue in the campaign, though his ads featured photographs of Grassley, who first won elected in office in Iowa in 1958, going back to the early days of his career.
When asked whether he had reservations about completing an eighth term, Grassley has replied by ticking through his Washington routine, which includes rising before dawn, running two miles most days and arriving at his Senate office by 6 AM.
“Unless God intervenes, I’m going to be in the Senate for six years,” he told The Associated Press last month.
Republicans had tried to focus attention on a Des Moines police report from September in which Franken had been accused of kissing a former campaign aide without her permission. Police ruled the allegation unfounded and did not pursue charges, but some Democratic women declined to appear with Franken in the closing months of the campaign.
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