Six-Term Democratic Sen. Max Baucus Endorses Chuck Grassley

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Retired six-term Democratic Montana Sen. Max Baucus endorsed Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley for reelection on Wednesday, marking a rare instance of cross-partisan support.

Baucus served in the Senate for more than 35 years before President Barack Obama appointed him Ambassador to China. Both men served on the Senate Finance Committee, and are the longest-serving senators for their respective states. The Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy ranked both senators in the top 30 for most bipartisan senators in the last full term that they served together, the 113th Congress.

“Chuck Grassley is a true public servant and friend,” Baucus said in a statement. “He is dedicated to representing the grassroots of his state and doing the hard work it takes to develop and deliver bipartisan legislation all the way to the president’s desk. Chuck and I became good friends when we alternated chairing the Senate Finance Committee. We met weekly. His office, my office, didn’t make any difference. Even if we didn’t have business to talk about, we talked about our grandkids.”

“We cleared our schedules so that we met every week. We missed only 10 meetings over about 12 years. We worked together. Never argued, we looked for solutions. We got them, too. Almost all legislation reported out of our committee was not partisan. Iowans benefit tremendously from Chuck’s character, integrity, and work ethic. His commitment to work across the aisle is all the more valuable in a time of too much partisanship,” he continued.

Grassley is running for his eighth term, facing off against Democrat Mike Franken. The incumbent leads Franken by seven points in the FiveThirtyEight average. If he wins and completes the eighth term, Grassley would be tied for the third-longest service with outgoing Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. (RELATED: Iowa Democrat’s Former Campaign Manager Accused Him Of Assault: REPORT)

Although most elected officials generally do not endorse members of the opposite party, red-state Democrats like Baucus have occasionally done so. Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has endorsed Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in the two most recent election cycles, and also supported Republican West Virginia Rep. David McKinley in his ill-fated member versus member primary against Alex Mooney.

Similarly, Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, endorsed Republican Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander in 2014. King’s leadership political action committee also gave $5,000 to Murkowski’s reelection bid.