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First Democrat announces Senate bid against Iowa's Grassley

First Democrat announces Senate bid against Iowa's Grassley
© Greg Nash

Former county official Dave Muhlbauer is entering the race to unseat Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyHouse unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Iowa governor questions lack of notice on migrant children flights to Des Moines Senate crafts Pelosi alternative on drug prices MORE (R-Iowa), becoming the first Democrat to formally jump into the 2022 contest.

“I grew up a Democrat. My dad was a Democrat. My grandpa Louis was a Democrat,” Muhlbauer said in a video announcing his candidacy. “We are the old-school, farming, labor Democrats. We are for that middle class.”

“A lot of farmers that are 50s, 60s — they come to me: ‘Dave, I used to be a Democrat.’ And they just feel that Democrats are leaving the rural areas high and dry,” he added. “I think people are just fed up. They’re stretched thin.” 

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Muhlbauer previously served for four years on the Crawford County Board of Supervisors before losing his seat last year by a margin of fewer than 100 votes. His campaign announcement on Monday marks his first run for statewide office. 

Grassley, who has served in the Senate for more than 40 years, has not yet said whether he will seek reelection to an eighth term next year. Republicans are eagerly watching his next moves, believing that if he chooses to retire it could put his seat in play for Democrats.

So far, only one Republican, state Sen. Jim Carlin, has jumped into the race to challenge Grassley. Other potential candidates include Grassley’s grandson, Iowa state House Speaker Pat Grassley, and former acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

Other Democrats said to be considering Senate bids in Iowa include Rep. Cindy AxneCindy AxneIowa governor questions lack of notice on migrant children flights to Des Moines First Democrat announces Senate bid against Iowa's Grassley On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July MORE (D-Iowa) and J.D. Scholten, who came close to defeating former Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingPence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' First Democrat announces Senate bid against Iowa's Grassley MORE (R-Iowa) in 2018. Ret. Admiral Mike Franken, who sought the Democratic Senate nomination in Iowa last year, also has not ruled out a bid.

Democrats have faced an increasingly difficult time in Iowa in recent years. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE carried the state twice, by nearly 10 points in 2016 and by more than 7 points in 2020.

Democrats also failed to unseat Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US Meghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Senate bill would add visas, remove hurdles to program for Afghans who helped US MORE (R-Iowa) last year, despite a raft of polling at the time that suggested a tighter race than the 6-point victory.