Patty Judge: ‘Old Iowa women are tough’5/25/2016
Patty Judge wouldn’t reveal the internal poll numbers inspiring that twinkle in her eye.
But the veteran Iowa politician, the former lieutenant governor and state secretary of agriculture,
says she’s a highly secure presumptive nominee in a four-person Democratic primary June 7. What’s more, Judge says she’ll be a competitive force in a general election with U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
“You know what, Chuck, you’re not going to have a free ride,” Judge said in an interview with this newspaper and during conversations with a handful of party activists last week in Jefferson.
On June 7, Iowa Democratic primary voters can choose Judge, Rob Hogg, a third-term state senator from Cedar Rapids, or former state legislators Bob Krause of Des Moines and Tom Fiegen of Clarence.
The prize: a shot at Grassley in the fall.
Grassley, 82, was first elected to public office in Iowa in 1958 and started serving in the Iowa Legislature when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.
Judge flat out called herself the frontrunner in the primary and said the nationalization of the Senate race, largely through anger with Grassley’s fierce blockage of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, will mean a tight contest. She also thinks having Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket will open up opportunities down ballot for her and other Democrats.
“This is a much closer race than Chuck Grassley has ever had before,” Judge said.
With the support of key Washington, D.C., Democrats — namely the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — Judge says she can raise the money for a battle.
The other three Democrats simply don’t have the name recognition or the political juice to go into the fall fight fully armed, she said, noting that her name has appeared on a statewide ballot five times.
“This is a statewide race,” Judge said. “There’s a real difference in running a statewide race instead of a State Senate race.”
Judge, 72, has been retired from Iowa politics since she and Gov. Chet Culver lost a re-election bid in 2010.
“I’ve always kept my finger in Democratic politics,” Judge said. “I didn’t ever quit that.”
She added, “We old Iowa women are tough.”
She said Grassley’s “obstruction” of Garland motivated her as much as anything to enter the race.
Judge said the Senate should convene hearings for Garland.
“It’s a disrespect to the president,” Judge said, adding that she is a “huge Barack Obama supporter.”
Grassley says the next Supreme Court justice, who will be a swing vote on defining issues, should be appointed only after the election.
That’s an example, Judge said, of how Grassley is being held hostage by Washington Republicans, and not thinking for himself.
“He’s not a bad man, he’s not a crook, he’s not a thief,” she said.
Judge said she was in Grassley’s office often during her time as Iowa secretary of agriculture.
She suggests he’s a different man today.
When asked what Grassley, a well-known champion for agriculture and a key player in shaping legislation like the Iowa commodity-boosting Renewable Fuel Standard, should be doing, or hasn’t done for Iowa farms, Judge didn’t get specific, instead saying, “He is not standing up today to do the job he is hired to do.”
Judge said the Republican attack machine will be in overdrive in the Iowa race with efforts to smear her.
“People are going to wonder who the hell I am when they go through with me,” Judge said. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.