Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Time For Iowans To Retire Grassley? Meet Rob Hogg


Iowa's senior U.S. senator, Chuck Grassley, has been in Congress since 1975. Before that he was a state rep for 15 years. He won his U.S. Senate seat in 1980, and if he wins in 2016 and serves out his full term he will be 88. He's had an honorable political career, and although no one likes to talk about it above a whisper, he slips into senility more and more frequently, often very publicly. Iowans admire and respect him, and recent polls show he's the best liked of the state's political leaders. He has a 53% approval rating.

Obama carried Iowa in 2008 (54-44%) and again in 2012 (52-46%). A good Republican year, a bubbling Senate candidate and an incompetent gubernatorial candidate turned Iowa pretty red in 2014. And with Chuck Schumer's DSCC obsessed with preventing Alan Grayson and Joe Sestak from winning Senate seats in Florida and Pennsylvania, the DSCC has Iowa on a back burner.

Yet, the state has a potentially exciting new Democratic candidate very actively mulling a bid against Chuck Grassley.

Rob Hogg, a state senator from Cedar Rapids who has served in the Iowa Legislature since 2003, announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider the race last week. If he enters the race, it will create a clear generational choice for Iowans between Hogg, age 48, and Grassley, age 81.

Hogg (pronounced “hogue,” like “vogue”) is a fourth-generation Iowan who, like many other young Iowans, had left the state, before he and his wife, Kate, returned home to raise their children.

In 2002, he ran for and won a state House seat previously held by a Republican legislator who was seeking another office. In 2006, Hogg broke a 25-25 tie in the Iowa Senate when he replaced another Republican, who retired from public service.

Hogg is recognized in Iowa as the leading advocate for climate action, in part because of his experience representing Cedar Rapids during the unprecedented flood of 2008, which caused $5 billion in damage in Cedar Rapids and $10 billion in damage statewide, the most expensive disaster in Iowa’s history.

He has organized Iowans across the state to get more involved in climate advocacy, including groups like Iowa Interfaith Power and Light and Citizens’ Climate Lobby. In 2013, he wrote a book, America’s Climate Century: What Climate Change Means for Americans in the 21st Century and What Americans Can Do About It.

As a climate advocate, Hogg emphasizes that there are solutions that work, and must work-- for our economy, our health and our environment. He cites as examples the job and economic benefits of the rapid growth of wind and solar industries in Iowa, both of which have been helped by legislation he authored, as well as investment in better water-management infrastructure.

In the legislature, Hogg has also been a strong leader for education, from early childhood through college and job training. It runs in his family. His mother was a schoolteacher, and his father taught math and statistics at the University of Iowa for 51 years. His grandfather, Mason Ladd, was a longtime dean of the University of Iowa Law School. In 2011, Rob was honored as a Friend of Education by the Iowa State Education Association.

Hogg believes that education and training are just part of what government should do to help foster a vibrant, full-employment economy that works for all Americans. He helped pass a higher minimum wage, and supports doing it again. He helped pass state civil rights protections to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and supports doing it nationally.

He also opposed a $4 billion commercial-property tax cut because, he said, it would deprive government of the resources it needed to meet its obligations for education, public safety, mental health and disaster preparedness. Overall, he has a 98% lifetime voting record from the Iowa Federation of Labor.

In 2013, Hogg pushed for Medicaid expansion in Iowa, which the divided government was able to accomplish with the passage of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, to cover over 100,000 Iowans. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he led the fight to maintain and expand mental health services, which he sees as a critical community safety issue in Iowa and across the country.

If Hogg gets in the race, there will be an additional reason to watch Iowa in 2016, because he just might be able to pull off the upset win over Grassley, who has not faced a younger candidate, representing the next generation of leaders, in any of his prior reelection campaigns.

For more information, visit This is one we'll be watching in greater depth as 2016 approaches.

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