Vote for Judge

By ART CULLEN

We used to think of Chuck Grassley as a maverick with a strong fiscal conservative streak in the tradition of his predecessor in the House, Rep. H.R. Gross. “There are three parties in the House,” Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford once explained. “Democrats, Republicans and H.R. Gross.” The Union County boy was a scold on spending. He refused congressional junkets and the party life in Washington. Gross said his only regret from a career in journalism and politics was voting “present” rather than “nay” on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution; he thought the Vietnam War too expensive.

Chuck Grassley used to be like that.

Then he got a taste of power.

Grassley fully colluded with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to make certain that President Obama got nothing in his eight years. The ultimate ploy was to refuse to grant hearings to Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court to fill a vacancy left with the death of Antonin Scalia. Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley vowed to block the nominee until the next President were seated. He has. Merrick Garland was not granted the courtesy of a hearing and certainly never a vote. The country has not been served well by a 4-4 deadlocked Supreme Court. Grassley believes politics trumps justice.

Grassley wrote the Affordable Care Act as ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee with Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana. He then voted against it after inserting several poison pills into the legislation, such as not financing cooperative health care providers that have since gone belly up. It has to be the biggest regret of Barack Obama’s two terms: letting Grassley get his hands on that bill when the Democrats had the 60 votes necessary for a public option.

Grassley cowered before Tea Party freaks who said in Pocahontas that guns should be taken to Washington to confront Obama. He never disavowed Donald Trump, Steve King or any of the other birthers who tried to delegitimize the first African American President. The entire goal of the McConnell/Grassley tenure has been to obscure Obama from American history, as if he were not President. At that Pocahontas meeting, Grassley embraced the lie that there would be a “death panel” that could deny your grandmother health care.

He voted against comprehensive immigration reform that would make Storm Lake stronger.

It became obvious to us then that, unlike Gross, Grassley is craven for power.

In this election, Grassley supports Trump, a blatant racist, sexist authoritarian.

Grassley will do anything to maintain that power to fit an ego and lust as large as Iowa.

He has become the ultimate creature of Washington, enmeshed in gridlock, devious with a narrative, forgetful of what elevated him so many decades ago to the corridors of the Capitol.

Three Democrats had been positioned to run against the invincible senator. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the presumptive Democratic leader in Harry Reid’s celebrated wake, picked a fourth candidate — Patty Judge, former state ag secretary and lieutenant governor in the disastrous Chet Culver Administration — to run against him. We can think of few Democrats more odious, but she had the money and the mojo and won the primary in a walk. Last we knew, she was 17 percentage points behind Grassley in the polls and treading water fast.

As in the Presidential campaign, Iowans are presented with two faulty choices: One is a proven prevaricator in Grassley, fully engaged in the Washington parlor game of leverage and lies. The other is a rough and rude Democrat in Judge, who lags only Grassley and Gov. Branstad in her negligence for the environment, K-12 education, strong Regents universities and vibrant rural communities. She does not have a constitutional aversion to the facts, at least, and she has not been involved in constructs aimed to defame the President who is a hero to minority communities. She supports immigration solutions for Storm Lake.

It worked pretty well when we had Tom Harkin on the Democratic side chairing the Senate Ag Committee while Grassley hawked the budget from his perch on the Finance Committee. They got a lot done for Iowa by working both sides of the aisle together. That all fell apart in 2010, as we noted. Harkin retired and was succeeded by Republican Joni Ernst of Red Oak, who has apparently not sold her soul to the caucus just yet. It would be nice to see another woman elected who could work with Ernst to represent all Iowans. That’s Patty Judge.

We have endorsed Chuck Grassley repeatedly through our careers because we thought he was a straight shooter. He’s not.

Patty Judge is obnoxious. She ran off our friend Jeff Vonk as director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources — the biggest champion Storm Lake had in Des Moines, along with former Gov. Tom Vilsack. We have waited many years to bring this up. We hope it pains her.

We will vote for her anyway. We hope you do the same.

Reject Chuck Grassley’s cynicism. Refresh his memory that he came from H.R. Gross stock. Gross told President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Kansas Republican, on an issue important to the White House that “I quit taking marching orders in 1916-19” after leaving the Army at the end of World War I. Grassley is taking his orders from Leader McConnell. He is a Kentuckian’s lap dog. He is no longer an independent voice for all Iowans. He is an essential part of the problem.