Harkin Retirement: Historic Senate Duo Heading for the Sunset, Too

Photograph by Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Iowa senators Chuck Grassley, left, and Tom Harkin attend a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.

Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin have represented Iowa in the U.S. Senate together for so long — more than 28 years — that it’s probably tough for many residents to recall a time when they didn’t.

Harkin’s retirement at the end of next year will bring an end to the Senate duo that’s the longest-serving in the 113th Congress and one of the longest in history.

Harkin, a Democrat first elected in 1984, and Grassley, a Republican first elected in 1980, already are the fifth-longest-serving senatorial pair in history, according to Eric J. Ostermeier, a research associate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

They’ll become the third longest-serving Senate duo by the end of Harkin’s term in January 2015, Ostermeier said. The only senatorial pairs to serve longer: Mississippi Democrats James Eastland and John Stennis (31-plus years) and Republican Strom Thurmond and Democrat Fritz Hollings of South Carolina (36-plus years).

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