DES MOINES -- Rep. Charles Grassley, bolstered by a Republican election wave, Tuesday stunned Democrat John Culver, one of a number of liberal senators targeted for defeat by staunch conservatives.
Ronald Reagan easily captured Iowa's eight electoral votes in the presidential race.
Culver telephoned Grassley his congratulations when his defeat became clear only an hour after the polls closed, then conceded before a somber crowd in a Cedar Rapids union hall.
The one-term senator, who served in the House for a decadebefore his election in 1974, said he extended Grassley 'best wishes in his service to the people of Iowa the next six years.'
'We now know that we won't have enough votes to win this election,' he said. 'But we do have the satisfaction of knowing we did our very best and that we conducted a positive campaign worthy of the best Iowa political tradition.'
Grassley flew from Waterloo to Des Moines to join an exhuberant gathering of GOP leaders and campaign workers savoring the victories for the White House and Senate.
'I didn't think and I don't think anyone envisioned this kind of landslide,' said Gov. Robert D. Ray, awaiting Grassley's arrival. 'It's part of what's happening around the country. Chuck Grassley represents the view that there has to be some change.'
The Grassley victory, a stunning blow to liberals who had rallied behind Culver's fighter candidacy, came on the strength of a solid rural base and erosion of support for Culver in Iowa cities.
'People just took it out on John Culver in terms of all the ills of the country,' said a solemn State Democratic Chairman Ed Campbell in Des Moines.
An analysis of key precincts sampled by United Press International indicated Culver failed to win the big margins he needed in traditional Democratic areas, despite a months-long drive to portray his re-election as a high-stakes decision between continuation of a progressive political tradition and a takeover by die-hard conservatives.
Reagan, whose campaign was catalyzed by his loss in the Iowa caucuses last January, easily collected the state's eight electoral votes -- his victory overshadowed by the pivotal U.S. Senate race.
Incumbents swept to victory in five congressional districts. The only chance of an upset was in the 3rd District, where Democrat Lynn Cutler was striving to fill the seat vacated by Grassley.
Voters also rejected a state Equal Rights Amendment and turned down a proposition for a Constitutional convention.
The Culver-Grassley contest was regarded as a key test of the power of the New Right -- an amalgam of single-issue groups, evangelists and conservative activists trained in the latest political techniques -- as well as a guide to the future of the Republican Party itself.
Grassley consistently accused Culver of being a liberal big spender who supported President Carter, and late criticizm erased a slight Culver lead.