DYERSVILLE, Iowa — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley announced on Friday that he will seek an eighth term in 2022.

The 88-year-old Republican senator from Iowa greeted constituents in Dyersville on Friday afternoon after announcing his bid for re-election. He has held the seat for 40 years and would be 95 at the end of the term if he were to win next fall.

While enjoying a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard, Grassley told about 15 attendees that he had given the decision to run again “considerable thought.”

He was convinced in part by the many Iowans he met at various events this summer who urged him to seek another term.

“I was overwhelmed with the number of people that said, ‘We want you to stay in Washington,’” he said.

In the Republican primary, Grassley will face current state Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City. His Democratic challengers include Dubuque-area native and former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, as well as farmer Dave Muhlbauer and rural physician Glenn Hurst, of Minden, Iowa.

Although a poll by the Des Moines Register and Mediacom Iowa in June showed 64% of Iowans saying they did not want Grassley to run again, this week a poll of likely voters by the same group showed Grassley leading 55% to 37% in a matchup between him and Finkenauer.

Grassley pointed to this strong support on Friday while noting that he prefers to focus on his current responsibilities as a senator, not poll numbers.

“I’ve found that the best way to get re-elected is to do the best possible job you can right now,” he said.

The senator discussed multiple issues during his Dyersville stop, including the current labor shortage and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, which he termed a crisis.

Dyersville resident Joe Ertl, founder of Dyersville Die Cast, told Grassley about his company’s hiring struggles.

“We cannot find the people in spite of raising our wages,” he said.

Grassley said he believes legal immigrants to the U.S. could help meet the need for laborers, but that the border should be closed to prevent illegal immigrants from entering.

“If you close the border, you can pass almost any piece of legislation that will in turn help us with our employment issues,” he said.

Following the event, Ertl said he supports Grassley because of his “common sense” and good values.

“He’s been good for the farmers, and for everyone, ever since he’s been in office,” Ertl said. “You never see him say ridiculous things, and he’s always (working to) help people, not hurt them.”

Peosta resident Duane Cottingham also was happy to hear Grassley would be running for re-election.

“He’s been very effective with everything he’s been involved in, especially the last 10 to 12 years,” said Cottingham. “There’s no politician I agree with all the time, but with him, it’s certainly a solid majority (of the time).”

Although Grassley has remained a staunch conservative, he at times disagreed with former Republican President Donald Trump. In January, he voted to count Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes following the breach of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters trying to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. He also vocally objected to waivers the Trump administration gave to petroleum companies from the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, a program that helps Iowa farmers.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn criticized Grassley for voting against a child tax credit and a bipartisan investigation into the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol.

“(Grassley) now faces his lowest approval ratings heading into a campaign because Iowans know he stopped working for them a long time ago,” Wilburn said in a statement Friday.

Grassley’s campaign tour Friday also included stops in Marion, Pleasant Valley, and Waterloo prior to a scheduled appearance at Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Annual Harvest Festival in Des Moines today.

In a statement Friday, Finkenauer described Grassley as having abandoned Iowa’s working class while in the Senate.

“(Grassley) is running yet again on an agenda that puts big pharma over our seniors, Wall Street over workers, and monopoly corporations over the mom and pop small businesses that make Iowa strong,” she said. “I won’t back down and will fight every day in this race to hold Senator Grassley accountable for becoming just another D.C. politician who can’t let go of power and turned his back on families like mine.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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