Chuck Grassley’s Political Career Is Older Than Barbie, The Grammys, And More

Chuck Grassley throughout his political career, which began in 1958.

Chuck Grassley turned 89 on Sept. 17 and, if re-elected, Iowa’s senior US senator would be 95 at the end of his next term and become the second-oldest person in history to hold that position.

Grassley was first elected to the Iowa House in 1958—Grassley’s son, Robin, was 2 years old at this time, and Robin’s son, Pat, is now Speaker of the Iowa House—and Chuck Grassley has been in office ever since.

In honor of Grassley’s longevity, we want to share significant historical achievements for milestone years of his political career starting from 1958 when a 25-year-old Charles Ernest Grassley defeated his cousin, Travis Moffitt, for a seat in the Iowa Legislature:

1958: Grassley wins his first election; President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the law that creates NASA; 14-year-old Bobby Fischer becomes the US Chess Champion; the microchip is invented.

1959: Grassley is seated in the Iowa Legislature; Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba; Alaska and Hawaii become the 49th and 50th states; the first annual Grammy Awards Ceremony is held; Mattel launches the Barbie doll.

1960: Grassley wins reelection; the US sends troops to Vietnam; the first televised presidential debate in American history takes place; Muhammad  Ali—then Cassius Clay—wins his first professional boxing match.

1962: Grassley earns his third term in the Iowa House; John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit Earth from space; “Spider-Man” makes his comic book debut; the first Walmart store opens in Arkansas.

1964: Grassley wins his fourth term in the Iowa House; the Warren Commission released its report of JFK’s assassination; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize; The Beatles release their American debut album.

1966: Grassley wins his fifth term in the Iowa House; ABC debuts its hit show “Batman” starring Adam West as the titular Caped Crusader; Ronald Reagan wins the California governor’s race; the Houston Astrodome is built.

1968: Grassley wins his sixth term in the Iowa House; the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is dedicated; Martin Luther King is assassinated; Tommie Smith and John Carlos do the Black Power salute at the Olympics.

1970: Grassley wins his seventh term in the Iowa House; The Beatles break up; the US voting age is lowered to 18; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is formed.

1972: Grassley wins his eighth term in the Iowa House; the Watergate break-in occurs; Bobby Fischer becomes a World Chess Champion; American troops withdraw from Vietnam.

1974: Grassley wins a seat in the US House of Representatives; President Richard Nixon resigns after the Watergate scandal; Stephen King releases “Carrie,” his debut novel; Muhammad Ali defeats world champion George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight.   

1976: Grassley is reelected to the US House; Apple Computer Co. is formed; the first “Rocky” movie is released; America celebrates its 200th birthday.

1978: Grassley wins a third term in the US House; the first “Garfield” newspaper comic strip appears; the first “Superman” film starring Christopher Reeves premiers; Ashton Kutcher is born in Cedar Rapids.

1980: Grassley wins his first US Senate Race; Kim Kardashian is born; former Beatle John Lennon is killed; the US Olympic Hockey Team defeats the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice” game; former astronaut John Glenn wins re-election to the US Senate; Reagan wins the US presidential election.

1986: Grassley wins his second term in the US Senate; the “Oprah Winfrey Show” debuts nationally; Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed federally for the first time (Grassley voted against the bill in 1983); the US Senate allows its debates to be televised on a trial basis.

1992: Grassley wins his third term in the US Senate; the Mall of America opens in Minnesota; Jay Leno replaced Johnny Carson as host of “The Tonight Show;” “Batman: The Animated Series” debuts; the first “Mortal Kombat” video game is released.

1998: Grassley wins his fourth term in the US Senate; Google is founded; Apple unveils the iMac; Michael Jordan plays his final game for the Chicago Bulls.

2004: Grassley wins his fifth term in the US Senate; Michael Phelps wins his first six Olympic gold medals for swimming; the Boston Red Sox break their World Series curse; the sixth “Mortal Kombat” game is released; Ronald Reagan dies; Facebook launches.

2010: Grassley wins his sixth term in the US Senate; the iPhone 4 is released; Jay Leno returns to hosting “The Tonight Show” and replaces Conan O’Brien—who was his replacement—as host; Instagram launches.

2016: Grassley wins his seventh term in the US Senate;  Muhammad Ali dies; Fidel Castro dies; John Glenn dies; “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is released in theaters; the Fox version of “American Idol” ends after 15 seasons; the 58th annual Grammy Awards take place; Stephen King releases his 55th novel “End of Watch;” Michael Phelps retires from competitive swimming; Harambe the gorilla is killed at the Cincinnati Zoo.   

2022: Grassley is running against former US Navy Admiral Mike Franken for his eighth term in the US Senate. Franken, 64, was born one year before Grassley won his first Iowa House race.

UPDATE: Story updated with Chuck Grassley’s correct middle name, Ernest.


by Ty Rushing

To contact Senior Editor Ty Rushing for tips or story ideas, email him at or find him on Twitter @Rushthewriter 

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