A Western Iowa legislator who believes Democrats stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump and called America’s current political situation a “war” will announce his candidacy for longtime Sen. Chuck Grassley’s seat on Monday. It’s unclear yet whether Grassley, 87, will seek an eight term.
Most in Iowa politics had expected that any Republican interested in the seat would wait until Grassley made his decision public, making state Sen. Jim Carlin’s coming announcement a surprise.
Carlin’s early move for the GOP nomination sets up one of the first potentially high-profile primaries featuring a Trump loyalist facing off against a Republican member of Congress who voted to certify Joe Biden’s election. If Grassley does not run for reelection, it is likely that one of the three first-term Republican House members from Iowa takes a shot at the seat. All of Iowa’s federal delegation backed the certification, much to the chagrin of Iowa Trump voters, who have raged online over the vote for weeks.
“America is freedom,” Carlin told The Iowa Standard, which first reported the news yesterday after Carlin’s FEC filing was discovered. “… All the ways we determine how to define ourselves as free individuals are being threatened right now by government overreach. This last episode now where we basically all have doubts in our minds over whether or not our vote even counts. And if our vote doesn’t count, we no longer have a representative form of government, we have something else. We should be concerned.”
In recent weeks, Carlin has repeated the 2020 election lie that has spread across conservative media and conspiracy theory groups that led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Our last election was the result of widespread fraud that never got a fair hearing,” Carlin said without proof during a speech on the Iowa Senate floor in January. “… Tyranny’s not at the door, it’s in the house. It would seek to redefine America as a nation no longer free. To make freedom appear evil, to make slavery a virtue.”
At a Stand With President Trump Rally in Sioux County shortly after the November election, Carlin went further, alleging a massive conspiracy to deny Trump a second term — again, without proof.
“This whole thing was planned and orchestrated for months before it ever took place. We have to deal with that reality,” Carlin said of Trump’s defeat. “We’re dealing with dishonest people who want to control and manipulate, define and shame us into silence and submission at the cost of our constitutional freedom and self-determination.”
In his speeches, Carlin mostly repeats far-right and Fox News talking points, often with little connection to Iowa. In Sioux County, Carlin suggested there were plots by Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros and Ilhan Omar to undermine the election. He also leaned hard into conservative victimhood, suggesting “the media” and the left wants to dehumanize and control conservatives.
Carlin also framed the post-election political situation as a war.
“This is a war. This is an ideological war,” Carlin told a crowd of Trump supporters. “Our freedom, our dignity and our humanity is at stake. Ronald Reagan said 40 years ago we must fight, if we do any less, if we don’t meet this responsibility, we’re selling our own children and their freedom into slavery … Get engaged any way you can and if you can’t think of a way, ask God and He will give you a way.”
Trump supporters in Iowa have expressed their anger online at the Republican federal delegation for the certification vote, giving a staunchly pro-Trump Republican like Carlin a possible opening in a primary. Carlin doesn’t start with much of a political infrastructure in the state, but some candidate is likely to position themselves as the voice of MAGA voters.
“He’s been one of the most vocal critics of the 2020 presidential election results and what happened after that,” noted The Iowa Standard’s Jacob Hall.
Carlin declined an interview with the main newspaper for his district after speaking with the right-wing outlet.
The Western Iowa legislator has gained some state attention this past week for a bill he introduced aimed at probing the political affiliation of Iowa university staff. Carlin has said that he wants to make sure there aren’t too many Democratic professors on campuses, where he believes conservatives are being silenced.
Carlin has also been heavily involved in this year’s “bathroom bill” that seeks to force transgender school children to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth.
Carlin is serving his second term in the Iowa Senate, representing SD 3, which covers most of Plymouth County and parts of Woodbury County in Northwest Iowa.
by Pat Rynard
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