Iowa's GOP Sen. Grassley Looking to Win 6th Term

Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, right, and Democratic challenger Roxanne Conlin talk after their debate at WHO Newsradio in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Bill Neibergall)

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Five-term Republican Sen. Charles Grassley appears poised to cruise to another six years in Washington on Tuesday, but some of Iowa's U.S. House members have had to work overtime for their re-elections.

Democratic challenger Roxanne Conlin has waged a high-profile campaign to unseat Grassley, but polls have consistently shown the Republican with big leads.

Conlin has argued that voters should replace Grassley with someone who has new ideas.

"Senator Grassley's plans are the same plans that plunged our economy into this crisis, that punished the middle class and exploded the deficit," Conlin said. "I have new plans and fresh ideas."

Grassley has responded to Colin's claims by saying that that after 30 years in the Senate, he has the seniority needed to hold posts on key panels, such as the Finance Committee.

"I don't think Iowa should be denied seniority in the United States Senate," Grassley said. "I don't think a person from Iowa should be asked to leave when people from other states aren't leaving."

Grassley, 76, was elected to the state Legislature in 1958 and won a U.S. House seat in 1974. He's served in the U.S. Senate since 1980. He's prided himself on maintaining his connections to Iowa, noting he holds events every year in all of Iowa's 99 counties.

He's augmented that traveling with more than $7.5 million in fundraising during this election cycle, which has allowed him to air non-stop television ads for months.

Conlin, 66, has never been elected to public office but is well-known in the state. She headed the civil rights division of the Iowa Attorney General's office, founded the Iowa Women's Political Caucus and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa in 1977.

After losing a race for governor in 1982, Conlin focused on building a successful law firm but has remained involved in Democratic politics.

Several House races also have drawn attention, especially the 3rd District race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell and Republican challenger Brad Zaun. Boswell has served seven terms but has typically won by relatively small margins, and many expect another tight result Tuesday. Polls have consistently shown Boswell maintaining small leads over Zaun.

Challengers also have mounted strong campaigns in the 1st District, where Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is running against Republican Ben Lange, and in the 2nd District, where Democrat Rep. Dave Leobsack and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks are competing.

In Iowa's 4th District, Democrat Bill Maske is challenging Republican Rep. Tom Latham, and in the 5th District, Republican Rep. Steve King is running against Democrat Matt Campbell.

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