'I don't know what's going on': GOP senator Chuck Grassley seeks donations as Dem challenger closes in
Senator Chuck Grassley speaking at the Night of the Rising Stars in Des Moines, Iowa (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

United States Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who at the age of 89 is seeking an eighth consecutive term, faces a real chance of defeat as polls show Democratic challenger Michael Franken within striking distance.

Franken, a retired Navy vice admiral, trails Grassley by as few as three percentage points in what CNN's Chris Cillizza dubbed the "sleeper race" of the 2022 midterm election cycle.

"The latest numbers out of Iowa – from a new Des Moines Register poll – are truly shocking," he wrote on Monday. "Grassley is at 46% to Democrat Mike Franken’s 43% among likely voters – a margin-of-error race that the poll at least suggests is very much up for grabs with just a few weeks to go in the midterm campaign."

The significance of this, Cillizza added, is that "if Grassley is truly endangered, Democrats have another path to retaining their Senate majority this fall. If not, then the poll still causes a little bit of heartburn for Republicans that they don’t need as they try to navigate a very narrow road back to the majority."

While Grassley's seat is still considered a "likely" Republican hold, Grassley is beginning to show signs of nervousness.

On Wednesday, Grassley appeared on Fox News and was unable to account for why Franken is surging. He also compared his situation to that of Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), who is in danger of losing his seat to Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

"You've been there for forty years. You usually win in a landslide! What's going on?" John Roberts, the host of America Reports, asked.

"Well, I don't know what's going on but I know this. In order to get reelected in Iowa, you gotta work hard, you gotta convince the people they should vote for ya, and I'm going to tell people that are listening just like I tell Iowans," Grassley said before encouraging whoever is willing to send him money. "If you're interested in helping me.. and you want to keep these investigations going, I'm just like Senator [Ron] Johnson [R-Wisconsin]. I've gotta have some help to get reelected and I'd appreciate the help."

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