Sen. Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday he’s considering running for reelection in 2022. But the 86-year-old said it’s too soon to make a firm decision yet, Iowa Capital Dispatch reported.
“You’ll have to ask me a year and a half from now,” Grassley said, following an appearance at the Cedar Falls Rotary Club.
The senior U.S. senator from Iowa will be 89 years old at the time of 2022 general election, and if he wins, he would be 95 at the end of that term.
Grassley explained the state of his physical health would be a key factor in his decision, saying he didn’t want to “become a Senator [Robert] Byrd, where, the last two years on office, I have to have a nurse with me.” Byrd, a long-serving senator for West Virginia, died while still in office in 2010 at the age of 92.
“I think I should be able to tell the people I’m going to be able to serve out my term,” Grassley continued. “That’s looking down the road six years. Maybe looking down the road six days is kind of dangerous when you’re 86. But right now, I feel pretty good.”
Grassley is currently president pro tempore of the Senate. It’s a largely honorary position given to the longest-serving member of the majority party, but it does make him third in the line of succession for president, following the vice president and the Speaker of the House. Grassley assumed the position in January 2019, when then-84-year-old Orrin Hatch of Utah retired.
Grassley has served in the Senate since 1981. Prior to that he was in the U.S House of Representatives for six years, and before the U.S. House, he was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives for 16 years.
He has been in elective office at either the state or federal level continually since 1959.
In 2018, the senior senator used the possibility he might not live until the end of his current term to encourage support for Gov. Kim Reynolds’ election.
“Something could happen to me in the next four years. I don’t want a Democrat appointing my successor who would then be a Democrat, not a Republican. Keep that in mind when you work for Kim Reynolds,” Grassley said in a speech to the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale on Oct. 24, 2018.
Six days later, Grassley told James Lynch of the Gazette he was feeling fine and considering running for a new six-year Senate term in 2022, even though his wife, Barbara, was likely to be unhappy about it.
“I’m going to guess that she’s not anxious for me to run for re-election, but that doesn’t mean I’m not,” Grassley said to Lynch.