Senator Chuck Grassley, the six-term Republican from Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has never had much to fear. The 82-year-old has held elected office since 1959, and has never lost a bid for reelection. He’s earned a reputation for being level-headed and fair, leading successful efforts to make government spending more transparent and becoming a trusted ally of Iowa’s small farmers and the state’s wind energy industry.
But in the past few months, Grassley has become the man who holds the fate of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in his hands. And now, amid building criticism, Grassley has an official challenger in the state’s Senate race: Iowa Democrat Patty Judge.
Judge won more than 47 percent of the vote and overcame three Democratic rivals in Tuesday’s Iowa primary, securing her spot as Grassley’s general election opponent. Judge, the state’s former lieutenant governor and secretary of agriculture, launched her campaign on March 4, largely in response to Grassley’s refusal to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. “I am fed up with Chuck Grassley’s excuses for not doing his job,” Judge said in her victory speech at her campaign headquarters in Des Moines’ East Village neighborhood Tuesday night. “There is no excuse for not holding those hearings. None. We know what this is about. It is about partisan politics and nothing more...It’s about his belief that Donald Trump should pick the next Supreme Court justice.”