Grassley vs. Sweeney: Incumbents face off in primary election - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Grassley vs. Sweeney: Incumbents face off in primary election


Tuesday's primary election is just days away, and area candidates are using every available minute to ask voters for their support.

One race that is getting a lot of attention is Rep. Annette Sweeney from Alden facing off against fellow Republican Rep. Pat Grassley of New Hartford. It's the only race like it in the state, and the two are handling it with as much grace as you could expect from competitors.

Both Sweeney and Grassley say, they're friends, and no matter what happens, they will remain friends. But after state redistricting maps put the two in the same district, the candidates are prepared to fight hard to keep their seat at the statehouse.

"When we first found out, when the map was first presented to us, I said, 'Oh good, I'm really excited about the new area!' And Pat came up to me and said, 'Annette, I think you need to look a little closer,'" Sweeney said.

Depending on the town, they said they're either introducing themselves to new constituents, or saying hello to familiar faces.

"Actually, my wife is from Hardin County, and I went to school in Grundy County which is another part of the district, so it's nice to be able to run again in another area where I have people that I'm close with," Grassley said.

"I'm just asking them to look at leadership, things we bring to the table, and I'm willing and ready to represent the state of Iowa again," Sweeney said.

Since they are the only incumbents in the state facing off for one seat, the race is getting a lot of press.

"Maybe some candidates like the attention! I'd rather go out and do the things I need to do," Grassley said.

"It makes people more aware, more in-tune, and that's the exciting part," Sweeney said.

While the general election is in the back of their minds, the primary is likely to be the bigger challenge. As of now, not one democrat has thrown their hat in the ring, so the winner of Tuesday's primary is likely to go uncontested in November.

Democrats would have to meet in a special convention to nominate a candidate, or someone would have to stage a successful write-in campaign to beat the republican nominee.

For this and other reasons, Grassley believes the new district ultimately benefits the entire Republican party.

"This is a Republican district that we'll be able to hold in the future, long after either one of us will be gone," he said.

Both candidates have high-profile Republican supporters on their side. Grassley is the grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. Sweeney is a lifelong friend of another big name in Iowa politics, Board of Regents President Pro-Tem Bruce Rastetter.

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