Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley, the senior Republican in the Senate, announced on Twitter Friday that he would seek an eighth term, relieving Republicans from a bitter primary battle that could jeopardize the seat.
Mr Grassley, who turned 88 last week and turned 95 at the end of his term, sought to emphasize his fitness in revealing plans that would attract attention because of his age. One tweet showed the alarm clock turning at 4 a.m. and Mr Grassley taking a walk in the dark of the morning.
“It’s 4 in the morning in Iowa so I’m running,” said Mr. Grassley, a habitual jogger. “I do this 6 days a week.”
In a separate release, Mr. Grassley, first elected to public office as a state legislator in 1958, said he has been encouraged to run by Iovans when he toured the state in recent months.
“I am working as hard as ever for the people of Iowa and there is still more work to do,” he said in a statement. “In times of crisis and polarization, Iowa needs strong, effective leadership.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and minority leader, had joined his allies in encouraging Mr. Grassley to participate in the primary fight for his successor. A bitter Republican primary could provide an opening for Democrats to take a seat in what will be an intense battle for a Senate majority next year. Former Democratic Representative Abby Finkenauer, 32, who lost her re-election bid last year, has already announced she will seek a seat next to Mr Grassley.
Elected to the Senate in 1980 when Ronald Reagan won the presidency, Mr. Grassley used his seniority as chairman of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Judiciary Committee, where he met President Donald J. He was instrumental in propelling Trump’s candidates to the highest office. The court is also blocking the nomination of President Barack Obama and Merrick B. Garland. He easily won re-election in 2016, even as Democrats aggressively tried to topple him by refusing to take the Garland nomination.
Mr Grassley was known for bipartisanship earlier in his career, but became increasingly conservative as his state also shifted ideologically to the right. During Obama’s presidency, Mr. Grassley engaged in talks with Democrats on health care legislation, but withdrew under a Republican backlash for his work with Democrats. He was a leading proponent of a criminal justice overhaul designed with Democrats and signed into law by Mr.
As the senior Senate Republican, Mr. Grassley was the third in presidential succession when Republicans won a Senate majority, behind the House Deputy Speaker and Speaker. Had he completed his eighth term, he would not have been the oldest Republican senator ever. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was 100 when he left the Senate in 2002.