The Iowa Demosphere is abuzz with the news that Chuck Grassley's first opponent has emerged. But the question is still "Bob WHO?"
Even among party activists, the name Bob Krause is little-known. His party work has focused on the Veteran's Caucus which he chairs.
Krause was once a wunderkind, elected to the legislature at 23 in 1972 and running statewide for state treasurer before he was 30, in 1978. In 1982 he tried a comeback in the state Senate but lost the primary. He now lives in Fairfield but his House district was on the north central border in Kossuth, Emmet and Palo Alto counties.
So the profile fits the pattern of Grassley opponents, all of whom would have been great candidates in 1986:
The good news is that Krause is getting into the race against Chuck Grassley early, earlier than we've seen in a few cycles. (Art Small's 2004 campaign was literally last minute; there were some worries that we wouldn't get ANYone.)
By all accounts Krause is a good guy, but this is hardly an A list or even B list candidacy. Don't get me wrong; I've known Jean Lloyd-Jones, Dave Osterberg and Art Small for ages, and supported and voted for all of them. And my personal politics are more in line with someone like Osterberg than with Tom Vilsack.
But Vilsack was the A lister here. God bless the President, but he screwed at least three Senate races (ours, Kansas and Arizona) putting the cabinet together, and shuffled the deck dramatically in the four with appointees (Colorado, Delaware, New York and his own seat in Illinois). We won't necessarily hold all those.
Tom Vilsack was three points behind Grassley in a Kos poll a week before he was named to the cabinet. But now, instead of fighting the home front battle against newly anointed national GOP spokesman Grassley, Vilsack is hanging out with Cookie Monster. A potential Senate vote for the President's program is much more important than a low-key Cabinet spot.
But you run the race you have, not the race you want. The A lister is gone, and the other A listers (Braley and Loebsack) are settling into the House. But there may be some B+ listers out there yet.
Maybe Krause is the guy after all. Unknowns have won before--just ask Congressman Loebsack. But Not Chuck Grassley isn't a winning campaign any more than Not Tom Harkin was. Krause retired from the Iowa Department of Transportation, and was involved in trail issues, so he could potentially work the Obama infrastructure issues. (In the `08 caucuses, Krause endorsed Chris Dodd verrry late: December 31. With the trouble Dodd's in back home, maybe we should get him to move back to Iowa and run against Grassley..)
Krause announces his exploratory committee on Saturday. Not many folks other than us junkies will be tuned in to this introduction. And an introduction is definitely what this guy needs. If there's some substance there, starting early helps, but if not, then you're just the next Steve Rathje.
There's not much time left to get someone--Krause or another--up and flying. The brutal, national level triage will happen really, really soon and Iowa is dropping off the radar by the month as the handicappers accept that Grassley isn't retiring.