Put out our “Rob Hogg For Senate” yard sign yesterday. He is one of four Democratic challengers for the Iowa Senate seat now (and seemingly forever!) occupied by Charles Grassley. Yes, the one who — single-handedly, really — has prevented the Senate from considering President Obama’s recent pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Chuck Grassley has gotten by for years on his original “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” persona. An Iowa farmer who made it a point to visit all 99 counties in the state every year in order to stay in touch with his constituency, he has served in the Senate since 1981! In his early years, Grassley was a pretty effective senator for Iowa. Conservative for sure, but populist and fiercely independent, he was as willing to take on Pentagon spending as he was runaway entitlements.
However, with the move of the Republican Party relentlessly to the Right, in Iowa as across the country, he became captive to the extremist views of the so-called evangelicals and has, for years, ceased to represent the values most Iowans cherish. The more he moved up in the GOP “establishment,” securing among other things the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, the more he lost touch with the real grass-roots in his state. “Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Hogg (pronounced “h-oh-gg” –important to point out in Iowa!) faces three rivals for the Democratic nomination on June 7. Two of them are farther to the left than he and the third, a woman who has been state Secretary of Agriculture and Lieutenant Governor in Iowa, is widely perceived to be in the pocket of “agri-business,” no small thing in this farming state. Robb has been a very effective state senator from Cedar Rapids and is a very smart, left of center Democrat. I think he has a pretty good chance. Maybe having to face a run-off with Patty Judge, the former ag secretary I mentioned.
In any event, it would be wonderful to regain the balance Iowa once had in the Senate with liberal Tom Harkin almost always voting against Chuck Grassley (except, of course, when local bread and butter Iowa issues were at stake!). Since our other senator is the infamous Joni Ernst and she is newly elected and quite popular in some circles, my guess is she will be around for a while. Even touted as a possible running mate for Donald Trump!
You remember, Joni was the one whose campaign ads recalled her childhood spent on the farm, castrating hogs (“Send me to Washington, and I’ll make ’em squeal.”)
Hogs…hopefully, not Hogg!