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Rep. Cindy Axne says running for Senate is her first choiceSpokesman adds the Congresswoman has

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As Iowa Democrats’ top choice for the top of the ticket in 2022, Rep. Cindy Axne is eyeing a run for the U.S. Senate or Iowa Governor and her Congressional seat — in that order. 

Axne, D-West Des Moines, told The Storm Lake Times she plans to “take a minute” to explore her options among Iowa’s choice posts, but the first seat she listed was Sen. Chuck Grassley’s seat, which the incumbent has indicated he intends to defend in 2022. Axne’s second choice was governor and the third was her own House seat, which covers the Des Moines metro and southwest Iowa. 

“Yeah, I’d be interested in (Grassley’s) seat,” Axne said during a tour of farms throughout southwest Iowa on Friday. The Times, which isn't located in Iowa's Third Congressional District, was invited on Axne's tour because of its focus on agricultural issues, said Axne Spokesman Ian Mariani.

Axne said she’s the leading candidate among Iowa Democrats to challenge Grassley, a seven-term incumbent, because she’s the lone party representative in Iowa’s congressional delegation. “I’m not making any decisions right now. I’m interested in doing a job for Iowa that improves people’s lives. … There’s that, there’s the governor’s seat, there’s (my) seat.”

Axne’s interest in statewide office was first reported by The Des Moines Register in January, but Friday marked her first comments putting priority on the Senate. Whichever she chooses, Axne would face Iowa’s strongest Republican incumbents. Her congressional district is up for decennial redistricting.

The Register reported last month that Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott saying he would be “surprised” if Grassley does not run for an eighth term. Grassley, 87, has served in elected office continuously since 1959. And he has served in the U.S. Senate since 1980. He would be 95 at the end of another six-year term.

Grassley declined to speculate on his Senate prospects during his 99-county tour in Storm Lake last Wednesday. He considers himself in good health and with sharp mental faculties. 

“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he said. 

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to seek reelection to her full second term in 2022. Her campaign reported that she raised $1.6 million already for that effort. Reynolds defeated Democrat Fred Hubbell in 2018. She initially rose to the position from lieutenant governor in 2016 when then-Gov. Terry Branstad was named U.S. Ambassador to China.

Clarification: Axne Spokesperson Ian Mariani told The Times in an interview on Tuesday afternoon Congresswoman Axne has placed no priority on either of the three seats: the governorship, the Senate or her current seat. "There are too many variables for her to make the decision she's going to make," he said, adding there's no "preference order." Redistricting of Axne's district, which stretches from Polk County to the southwest corner of the state, is expected to play into the Congresswoman's decision, he said.

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