DES MOINES, Iowa – The Republican primary in 2022 is about 17 months away, but the race for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race already has a contender.
On Monday, 58-year-old State Senator Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, announced that he would run for the U.S. Senate in 2022.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will turn 89-years-old in 2022. He said he is weeks away from announcing his decision about whether he would run for an eighth term in the U.S. Senate or retire.
Carlin told The Iowa Torch he decided to announce early to get an edge and had been considering a run for U.S. Senate for a while, and Grassley’s decision didn’t factor in his decision to run.
“I was going to do this, whether he retired or ran again,” he said during a phone interview on Monday evening.
From the courthouse to the statehouse
Carlin has served in the Iowa Legislature since 2017, first serving one year in the Iowa House of Representatives representing Iowa House District 6. He won a special election in Iowa Senate District 3 after former State Senator Bill Anderson resigned to become the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corp executive director. Carlin won re-election in 2018.
He has been a private practice attorney for 28 years and a trial lawyer for the last twenty. Carlin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and earned his law degree from the Marquette University Law School.
“In that line of work, you get to know people really closely because they’re going through hard things. And you have some pretty serious conversations about their realities. And during the course of that time, I’ve represented families; I’ve represented people of pretty much every race. I’ve represented people from all kinds of ethnicities and all economic strata,” Carlin said.
“I think I have just generally I think I have a pretty good handle on Iowans just from having spent 28 years getting to know them through their adversities,” he told The Iowa Torch. “I’ve made a career out of representing the common man, you know, the forgotten man, the working class.”
Carlin said he loves representing and advocating for people, so he took the opportunity to run for the Iowa House in 2016 when he was encouraged to run.
He lives in Sioux City with his wife, Donna, how Carlin said was his first client. They raised three children, Wesley, Whitney, and Hannah, and he is a grandfather to three – Bennett, Clara, and Annie. An evangelical Christian, Carlin attends Morningside Assembly of God in Sioux City. He has helped start a non-profit with friends that provides a self-sustaining infrastructure to orphans in Kenya. Until COVID-19 shut it down, he organized and led a book club at the Ft. Dodge Correctional Facility.
Why run for U.S. Senate?
“My biggest concern is the direction, and the regard for freedom and our country is really on a rapid decline to where I think the question we have to ask ourselves is will our children and grandchildren be free 10 or 20 or 30 years from now? I never thought I would say that, but I have real doubts about it now. And I think when you ask that question, you kind of have to see it as a responsibility and stand up somehow, find a way to stand up,” Carlin answered.
He is mostly concerned with what he sees as the assault on freedom. He told The Iowa Torch that the Big Tech censorship of free speech is a pressing issue for him. Carlin added that Facebook already suspended his Facebook page on the first day of the campaign within two hours of his announcement speech, stating he violated community standards.
He is also concerned about the threat to free speech on college campuses. He added that he is concerned about gun rights while Democrats control the White House and both chambers in Congress.
Carlin says he is concerned about the erosion of privacy and Americans’ ability to make health care choices.
“I’ve literally seen seniors be put on comfort care whose lives, I think, could have been preserved. They were shown the door,” he said.
Carlin said he’s worried about Americans’ ability to decide where and how they can travel believing that Democrats’ environmental agenda with policies like the New Green Deal could dictate that.
“Every one of these things is just this incremental bite out of your pie of freedom and independence, and they just seem to have an insatiable appetite for taking away every aspect of your self-determination. That’s not a good path to be on,” he stated.
Carlin also worries about how Americans relate to one another, stating that when Americans relate to one another as mobs, masses, and classes instead of individuals, the nation is on a destructive course.
He said he is also concerned about the breakdown of the family, and the government does not do enough to address that. “The welfare state actively works against two-parent families, in my opinion, and the tax code makes it very hard for the middle class to have children. Children are expensive,” Carlin said.
Striking a populist tone, instead of large tax credits to corporations, Carlin would rather see tax relief for middle-class families.
“They have to pay the property taxes, sales tax, state, and federal income tax, and the cost of inflation. When inflation averages two to three percent a year, after ten years, you’re into some serious tax increases. So if you get a marginal pay increase over those ten years, that could be a tax increase for you of ten to 15 percent right out of your income,” he explained.
Carlin is also concerned about China, calling the communist country an existential threat.
“I think what we learned from COVID, and probably should have known already, is don’t trust a totalitarian state that sets up concentration camps for its own minorities,” he stated.
“It’s a surveillance state; there’s no free speech. And when you have a nation that kills people that disagree with it politically, they have no regard for human life. Their businesses, historically, have shown to have no regard for human life with some of the products they’ve sent our way. They’ve weaponized trade policies, their currency manipulation, which operates as a tariff. They act like we’re at war with them, war without the bombs, but they’re treating us like the enemy,” Carlin argued.
Why challenge Grassley?
“I, like everybody else, you have got to respect things that he has done, and I do,” Carlin said.
But he has not seen “meaningful efforts” to address the concerns that led to his candidacy.
Carlin also wanted to see Grassley and the U.S. Senate do more to address what he believes was significant fraud in the 2020 election.
The claim of fraud in the 2020 presidential election is disputed. Former President Donald Trump’s legal team was unable to prove fraud in the sixty lawsuits they filed after Election Day, including hearings where the campaign or surrogates were asked to provide evidence.
Trump supporters believe more time needed to be spent investigating the claims.
“There are millions of people who thought there was fraud and had real doubts,” Carlin stated, noting that the Senate had from Election Day to January 6, to investigate it.
“As a lawyer, if I need to see something, I just subpoena, and I get it, and I take a look at it. I want to know what the evidence is,” he said. “Well, that never happened. And I’m not saying that that falls solely on the shoulders of Senator Grassley. But they should have looked at it. And the reason why they should have looked at it was because we trust them with a responsibility to investigate these things so we can define where the leaks are, what areas are problematic for us in our election process, and also, to hold people accountable that are guilty of fraud.”
Carlin said that when the U.S. Senate didn’t look into the allegations of fraud, they incentivized future fraud, which is a more significant concern for him stating freedom is at risk.
He said the Senate not investigating was “tantamount” to telling voters that their vote doesn’t matter.
“When you have real doubts about the integrity of the process, the interests of freedom are not well served,” Carlin concluded.